Barbados-born, new England fast bowling star Jofra Archer spent a hectic one week at home as he savoured success in the just concluded ICC World Cup in England & Wales, before returning to London to prepare for the imminent Ashes series against Australia.
Last Saturday during the opening day’s play of Series 2 in the Barbados Cricket Association Elite division three-day Championship, Archer spoke with veteran sports journalist, cricket commentator and columnist Keith Holder in an exclusive wide-ranging interview, as he took in some of the action between Gladiola and Carlton at Rices in St. Philip.
Following is an edited version of Part 1:
HOLDER: It must be a very hectic period for you since returning home for a one-week break after the World Cup in England & Wales. You were the top England bowler and crucially bowled the very last over (Super over) against New Zealand when they needed 16 runs to win. As it turned out, the scores were tied and England triumphed on account of scoring more boundaries.
What was the feeling like when you bowled that Super over?
ARCHER: For me, everyone played a really, really big role. So, not just me. After the Final, everyone was really, really happy. I saw some of the guys who don’t really show too much emotion running around and screaming and stuff, so you can see what it meant to not just the team, but also everyone in the ground.
HOLDER: In the moments after it started to sink in, what was going through your mind?
ARCHER: I don’t think it has sunken in as yet. I left England two days after the World Cup was finished so I didn’t really get a good chance to digest it all.
HOLDER: You qualified to play for England because you were born to a British father, Frank Archer, and hold a British passport. After leaving secondary school in Barbados at Foundation in 2013 and getting an opportunity to go to England and play for Sussex in the County Championship, in your wildest dreams, would you have ever imagined that in 2019 you would be walking onto the field to play for England in a World Cup?
ARCHER: No. Because at the time seven years would have put me at like 2022, so I probably played a few years earlier than expected. I already had my heart set on that year but it has happened a bit sooner so I was just really excited to be given the chance. Because you could qualify but that doesn’t mean they have to pick you, so I’m just happy I got the opportunity.
HOLDER: Christopher Jordan, another Barbados-born player who has also played for England, has helped with your cause in representing England. Talk us through the process of your friendship with him dating back to 2013 when he turned out for Barbados in both the regional four-day and one-day Championships.
ARCHER: Just before the English season started, Christopher was in Barbados having a pre-season session. Some of the Barbados Under-19 team players of that season got invited to trials. Guys like myself, Jerome Jones, Akeem Jordan and Jameel Stuart.
I had never seen him play any cricket in Barbados. I can’t remember who was running the practice sessions but I was given the ball and bowled at him. It was just normal training. After the session he came and spoke to me about fast bowling and stuff like that.
He played for Barbados a couple days after so I went to the Oval and watched the game. He just said “hello” to me and then it just all started from there.
Just before he went back to England I told him that I have a British passport and asked him whether there was anything he could do for me, like speak to coaches. He said just leave it with him and he would let me know in a couple weeks. And I said okay, fine.
At that time other County teams were in Barbados. I spoke to Northamptonshire a little bit and I tried with Essex as well, just hoping that something would happen.
HOLDER: On reflection, would you say that having ended up at Sussex like Christopher Jordan, you not only became very close friends but you would have “nipped” him and played for England and now your buddy is on the outside?
ARCHER: Nah. I would never say that. He hasn’t played (consistently for England) in the last two or three years so I wouldn’t say that I nipped him. It was a bit unfortunate because he was in the squad as well just before they cut it down to 15. I would absolutely love to have him there but it was still also special to have him there for my first game because every time I have actually played a new Tournament or for a new team, he has either been in the team or at the Tournament. So he has always been there.
HOLDER: Jofra, now to the World Cup. Aged 24, you played in a maximum 11 matches, took 20 wickets at an average of 23.05, with an excellent economy rate of 4.57. And you sent down as many as 100.5 overs – the only bowler in the ten-team Tournament to bowl over 100 overs. In your wildest dreams would you have expected to bowl as many as 100 overs in your first World Cup?
ARCHER: Well, kind of, because of my role in the team. I bowled at the beginning and at the death. I think that anyone that did that job would probably bowl a lot of overs. I did bowl the most overs but a lot of guys like (Jasprit) Bumrah (of India) or the guys that opened and closed the innings wouldn’t be too far behind.
HOLDER: Of the top four bowlers in relation to wickets, you were the most economical. What would you put down to this success?
ARCHER: To be honest, I don’t think the guys took a lot of risk at me because probably Mark Wood and myself were the two quickest, so the guys would probably just try to see us through and then try to attack some of the other bowlers. To me that’s how it seemed but obviously you still have to put the ball in the right areas.
HOLDER: It was not only genuine pace from Jofra Archer, but also one, two, three batsmen cracked on the helmet. Have you had a chance to review those videos and tell yourself ‘yes’ I had it there for them or would you say it was a matter of bad technique?
ARCHER: Not bad technique. Sometimes you bowl your bouncers to get a dot ball or hope for a top edge but you don’t always bowl to hit them. If you get hit it’s a little bit unfortunate but that’s not always the plan. That’s not what you always set out to do.
HOLDER: The English officials gave you one week to go home and rest a niggle. How is that niggle going?
ARCHER: I am good. As you said it is just a niggle. It probably didn’t get a chance to heal because there was a quick turnaround in the games in the World Cup but since then I have made a lot of progress. I would pretty much say maybe in three or four more days I will be back to full fitness but there is nothing serious, nothing major.
HOLDER: Talk us through that very last over in the World Cup, especially after being struck for a six?
ARCHER: The first ball was a wide so it went from defending 16 to 15. The guys just started running twos and I think there was a fumble as well so that kept the left-hander on strike for one more ball, which he shouldn’t have. When the six was hit, they needed five from three. At that point I wouldn’t say I had given up but I said well whatever happens here, happens. I guess that’s why I didn’t look too nervous or what’s not. I think I probably accepted the fact that if I didn’t happen then, we played so well to get there in the first place… the guys probably would have been a bit disappointed if we hadn’t won but equally I don’t think anyone would blame me as well, so you don’t really need that extra pressure in thinking that you messed it up and everyone is going to be upset with you and no one is going to speak to you.
So coming into the team I have learnt that the guys are not like that and that went a long way especially in such a serious pressure moment.
HOLDER: What did Eion Morgan say to you during that over?
ARCHER: Well, when the six was hit, I told him that we needed to get a one or dot here and he just said you do what you need to do, do what you feel is best and even for the captain to have that much confidence in you, usually more than likely at that stage any batting team would have won that equation. So even at that stage to be 50-50 in the game and he can tell you pretty much do what you need to do because some captains would tell you that you need to do this or do that or even try to change the field because it was so important everyone just wanted to win but no one didn’t go over the top. Everyone was just level right away through.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1
(now Elite) Championship for over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).
Email: [email protected]