- Jofra Archer (England)
A few years ago, the Barbadian-born was not even considered for the West Indies U-19 side. And now, he is a World Cup winner.
A debilitating back injury almost put an abrupt halt to his blossoming career, but today, in retrospect, he can say that it was a blessing in disguise. Having slipped out of the radar of the Windies selectors, he took advantage of his British passport (his father is English) and went to England to ply his trade on the county circuit on the advice of fellow Barbadian-born English cricketer Chris Jordan. And since, there has been no looking back for this fast-bowling all-rounder.
For the last few months, speculation was rife whether Archer would find a place in England’s World Cup squad. While many players within the English camp expressed their reservations about the issue, understandably owing to the fear of losing their spots in the ODI team, cricket pundits and the decision makers of the English team management knew that if England had to succeed at the World Cup, they needed an X-factor, and that X-factor had to be Archer. That is why the ECB relaxed its regulations related to immigrant players and reduced the number of years of residency from seven to three, so that they could accommodate him in the team. And what a masterstroke it was!
A potent wicket-taker, Archer’s forte lies in his all-round bowling skills— fetching early breakthroughs in the first poweplay, coming back in the middle overs and breaking partnerships, and also stemming the tide of runs by picking wickets at the death. On some days, he might go for a few runs, but on most he is accurate, exhibiting his vast range of deliveries. From the inswinging yorker to the vicious bouncer to the deceptive knuckle ball, his rich inventory is something that any aspiring fast bowler would dream of possessing, and when you add to that his ability to clock speeds over 150 kph on a regular basis, you know that he is a type of bowler England have never had before.
Still, credit has to be given to Archer for adroitly executing his skills and showing the temperament of a world-class performer on the biggest stage of the game, which, incidentally, is only his third international assignment. Moreover, his experience of participating in the big T20 leagues around the world has made him accustomed to holding his nerves in front of capacity crowds, which was evident in the way he bowled the last two deliveries of the super over, the last hurdle that England had to overcome before winning their coveted Cricket World Cup trophy.
Archer finished the tournament as England’s highest wicket-taker, claiming 20 scalps in 11 games at an economy rate of 4.77.
Tournament stats: 11 matches, 20 wickets, Bowl Avg. 24.55, Economy 4.77