Barbados-born, new England fast bowling star Jofra Archer recently spent a very busy week at home after arriving on July 17, as he savoured success in the ICC World Cup in England & Wales before returning to London to prepare for the current Ashes series against Australia.
With England capturing the World Cup for the first time under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan, Archer’s impact with the ball remains a big talking point, as well as his decision to represent the Mother Country instead of West Indies.
In his first full international series, the 24-year-old Archer played in a maximum 11 matches, snatching 20 wickets at an average of 23.05, with an excellent economy rate of 4.57 from 100.5 overs. He was the only bowler to send down over 100 overs and also topped both the England bowling averages as far as wickets, average and economy rate were concerned.
On July 20, 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 the second and final Part of the interview. Part 1 appeared on July 26.
HOLDER: Let’s go back six years to the BCA Intermediate division Final between Foundation and Isolation Cavaliers at Foursquare Oval when you scored 86 off 102 balls with five fours and two sixes at No. 9, and took five for 50 as you played a key role in helping your school to capture the title by way of first innings lead and gain promotion to the First division. What are your memories of that match?
ARCHER: Going back to that match, the group that we had, we were together for about three to four years. Everyone was around the same age. Pretty everyone in that team. Now to see Foundation still playing in Division 1 is really good.
HOLDER: About five guys who either played in that team or were at school around the same time (Aaron Jones, Zachary McCaskie, Carlos Maynard, Jerome Jones and yourself) are all now playing for Wildey. What would have led to that move?
ARCHER: To be honest, if you see a friend going to a club, you probably will want to go there as well. Most of the guys do live near each other so sometimes you can always get a ride but mostly you just want to be comfortable in a team. You don’t want to go to cricket on Saturdays and you and a few guys don’t get along. So that goes a long way as well – the camaraderie and the team chemistry.
HOLDER: How big an impact did Nhamo Winn, who was the coach for that 2013 season when Foundation won the Intermediate division, and still is the coach at the school, have on your career?
ARCHER: He had a big impact. Not just for me but the whole team. Looking at the team, he stuck with the openers because it wasn’t always smooth sailing but I think we eventually found the right line-up and batting order as well. Even Jerome (Jones) used to bat higher than me when we were coming up in the Under-15 and Under-19 teams.
HOLDER: On reflection, would you say that you made the right choice to play for England and do you think that too much is made of players who were not born in England, representing England?
ARCHER: I think it’s a good thing that we won (the World Cup). Given the background, it would probably be said that you tried to get all these people and you still didn’t win. You can’t make everyone happy and I have learnt that over the past couple years, especially when I go on social media and stuff. Since I have been back, no one has ever asked me why I didn’t choose to play for West Indies. Just people who don’t know me, or my background.
I think that having people from different backgrounds is a good thing. Like (Adil) Rashid and (Moeen) Ali because of their Asian heritage, they will probably be a bit better at bowling spin than some of the locals. I’m not saying that the locals are not good but I guess they will have a better understanding of spin bowling. Even when they are batting they do bat spin quite well and that can come in handy if we do play in the sub continent. I think everyone has their own attribute coming from different backgrounds.
HOLDER: You seem to be pretty close to Ben Stokes. What sort of influence does he have on Jofra Archer, as a rookie?
ARCHER: It’s pretty much like the same procedure having a familiar face. Like in the last two years playing with him in the Indian Premier League, you get to know him outside of the England setup. So when you do go in, you feel like you already know him so you don’t have to get to know him. You probably just seek him out if you are not bowling a good spell, you can speak to him. Even at the hotel, because you know him, he is someone you much rather go to than anyone else in the team.
HOLDER: It was reported in The Times newspaper that all the players of the England team are setto be honoured in recognition of winning the World Cup. The report said the 15 would be recommended for MBEs or OBEs in the New Year’s Honours list, according to Whitehall sources. On July 15, the then outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is also a cricket fan, welcomed the England team at No. 10 Downing Street. Have you ever had the opportunity to shake the hand of a Prime Minister before that special occasion?
ARCHER: It was a good experience seeing where she works etc. Just like some of the other people in the office. She said she had a meeting on the same day of the Final but she didn’t go. She stayed and watched the Final. Just not from her but I think the whole country was supporting us.
HOLDER: Can you tell us about the influence which your parents have had on you?
ARCHER: Mum (Joelle Waithe) will always have a special place. Even like packing lunch to go to cricket. That goes a long way because she used to work so hard when I was younger, when she did actually come to cricket it made it a bit special. She knew that whenever she came I tried to do something to make her proud. Mum has just always been there from as long as I can remember, even until now.
When I made my debut (in the World Cup) my mother came over. She was there from the First of May and she said she wasn’t leaving until we won the World Cup. I was like well Mum ….because at that time Sri Lanka had just beaten us and they said we had to win every game to qualify (for the semi-finals). I said Mum I don’t know what’s going to happen for now and she said don’t worry, we will worry about that when the time comes and I said okay fair enough. I believe she probably saw all of this coming even before it happened.
HOLDER: And what influence has there been from your stepfather, Patrick “Noddy” Waithe??
ARCHER: He did a lot of personal one on one as a coach. Even when I was at school like training during the week and on other days we would go to Pickwick to train.
HOLDER: What are your parting words?
ARCHER: Thanks everyone for all of the support here in Barbados. I really appreciate it and hopefully whatever I do next we can win as well.
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: Keithfholder@gmail.com