Legendary West Indies all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers does not believe the regional cricket authorities did enough to hold on to Barbadian-born fast bowler Jofra Archer and must be a little ‘sad’ to have missed out on such a top prospect.
The 24-year-old was born in Barbados and played youth cricket for the Windies but failed to secure a spot on the youth World Cup team. The player later moved to England before deciding to switch allegiance and represent the country of his father’s birth.
Archer made his debut for England at the World Cup earlier this year, after a change in the country’s eligibility rules allowed the player to represent England earlier than originally stipulated. The bowler went on to make a major impact at the tournament as England claimed a maiden title. Archer then went on to make his impact felt during the Ashes series.
“We have lost a good one, there’s no doubt about that,” Sobers told the DailyMail.
“Jofra is an amazing bowler. For him to jump to where he is in the England team already is tremendous. I believe there was an argument as to whether they should play him in the World Cup but eventually they got over that and they must be very happy they did because he has been great for them,” he added.
Clearly though, Sobers, still as passionate about both Barbados and Caribbean cricket as ever at 83, just wishes Archer could have gone from strength to strength in the maroon of West Indies rather than the blue of England.
“The West Indies must be very sad when they see what he has done because we don’t seem to have given him the opportunities we should have done,” said Sir Garfield.
“He started in Barbados and wanted to get in the West Indies team but he didn’t get the chance to do that so he went to the best place he could.
“I’m sure England had some doubts at the beginning but they must be very glad they took him because he does look world class already. He can only get better. I look forward to when he plays against West Indies in a Test series and I think he will enjoy that. Good luck to him.”
Sobers’ words were echoed by a Barbadian legend of a different era in former opening batsman Desmond Haynes, who joined him at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre.
“Jofra has made a decision to play for England and he obviously felt he didn’t get the opportunities in Barbados but we all just wish him well,” said Haynes.
“We all expect him to become one of the best if not the best bowler in the world and there’s no hard feelings nor animosity.
“When you look back we’ve had Roland Butcher, Gladstone Small and Ricky Ellcock play for England and they’re all Barbadians too. We just wished them all well.
“Jofra is one of those bowlers who doesn’t seem to need to put the effort in.
“It’s like he’s holding something back but can still bowl 90 miles per hour. So it makes me wonder how fast he can get.
“He makes it look so easy. He’s a rhythm bowler so when he gets it right I believe he could bowl at 100 miles per hour one day.”
And when that happens it will clearly be greeted with a huge sense of pride throughout the island Archer left behind.