LONDON – Jofra Archer insisted his focus was on Pakistan following an England call-up that could see him make a late charge into the hosts’ World Cup squad.
Dynamic all-rounder Archer was included in a 17-man squad on Wednesday for next month’s one-day internationals against Pakistan and Ireland.
The Barbados-born rising star, was, however, left out of the 15-man preliminary World Cup squad.
But the Sussex paceman could have as many as six one-day internationals – one against Ireland and five against Pakistan as well as a Twenty20 against Pakistan – to force his way in before the final World Cup squad deadline of May 23.
Archer, 24, has an English father and holds a British passport.
He completed a three-year qualification period on March 17, after the England and Wales Cricket Board changed its residency rules.
Under the previous system, he would not have been eligible until 2022 after a seven-year residency.
“I was fully prepared in my mind that it was going to be a seven-year job,” said Archer. “When I found out I was qualified more quickly, it was obviously a bit of a shock, but also exciting.
“But the goal has never changed, which has always been to become the best cricketer I can, and hopefully play for England whenever I was eligible.”
The prospect of Archer playing at the World Cup has caused concern among several more established England rivals for a pace-bowling berth, amid suggestions it could damage team morale, with all-rounder Chris Woakes saying on Tuesday: “It probably wouldn’t be fair, morally, but at the same time, it’s the nature of international sport.”
Archer, however, tried to defuse the situation by saying: “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. The squad selected for the World Cup deserve it, and my job is to do my very best against Pakistan.
“Of course I want to play in the World Cup, but if it doesn’t happen for me, I’m not going to get upset.”
Archer and another Barbados-born Sussex player, Chris Jordan, were both added to the 15-man squad that played a one-day series in the West Indies earlier this year.
Archer has been impressing in the Indian Premier League, taking 3/15 for the Rajasthan Royals – where his teammates include England’s Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – against Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday.
Stokes recently described Archer as one of the most “naturally gifted” bowlers he had seen.
England chief selector Ed Smith told reporters at Lord’s after Wednesday’s squad announcement: “Jofra Archer is a very exciting cricketer, and there was a broad desire to give him the opportunity to play for England before the World Cup, before we make the final decision in just over a month.”
🗣 @craig_arch: “It will be the highlight of my career to play against Pakistan. Of course I want to play in the World Cup, but if it doesn’t happen for me I’m not going to get upset”— England Cricket (@englandcricket) April 17, 2019
Full Q&A with our new call-up 👇
As for Woakes’ comments, former England batsman Smith added: “He said specifically he did not think the inclusion of Jofra Archer would disrupt the squad, that’s also the view of the captain Eoin Morgan and (coach) Trevor Bayliss.”
England have retained Kent batsman Joe Denly, who was in their ODI squad in the Caribbean, even though it is 10 years since he last played a match at this level.
England, top of the ODI rankings, are seeking their first men’s World Cup title following three losing appearances in the final – the last in 1992.
They face Ireland in Dublin on May 3 before their home series against Pakistan.
The World Cup is set to begin with England’s match against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.AFP