LONDON, CMC – Former Test star Andrew Flintoff said yesterday Barbadian Jofra Archer was a must for England’s World Cup campaign and urged selectors to drop “anyone” to accommodate the rising star.
Debate has raged in recent weeks over Archer’s inclusion for the May 30 to July 14 showpiece here. He was not picked in the preliminary 15-man squad but is set to feature in the five-match one-day series against Pakistan beginning Wednesday.
Players in the World Cup squad – especially those whose places are under threat by Archer’s presence – have publicly warned about disruption to team unity if the 24-year-old was fast-tracked into the squad at the expense of a settled member of the side. Flintoff, however, said he did not anticipate any such fallout.
“You ask who I would get rid of? Anyone,” said Flintoff, who played 79 Tests and 141 One-Day Internationals for England.
“I think he’s brilliant. I know there’s a thing about him qualifying but we’ve done that for a number of years.
“When I was a kid we were watching Robin Smith (from South Africa) and were waiting on Graeme Hick (Rhodesia/Zimbabwe) to play [for England].”
He added: “We’ve had KP (South African Kevin Pietersen) so it’s not a new thing. But watching the lad (Archer). For someone to bowl that quick so easily, with so much control, all the tricks – slower balls, bouncers, yorkers – he’s got to be in hasn’t he?
“I was watching him bowl the other day and I found it so frustrating that a bloke can bowl so fast with what looks like so little effort.”
Archer was born in Barbados to a British father and played a handful of matches for West Indies Under-19s six years ago before deciding to try his luck in England. He qualified in March to represent them after the England and Wales board reduced the eligibility period to three years from seven.
Archer bowls consistently in excess of 90 miles per hour and put his pace on display in his debut matches for England last week – in a one-off ODI against Ireland in Dublin and a T20 International against Pakistan at Cardiff.
Instead of being threatened by Archer, Flintoff said the current England players needed to lift their game.
“I would make sure I would raise my game. It’s international sport, competitive and it’s a good position for England to be in that you can drop or leave out someone (else) so good,” he pointed out.
England are the current world number ones and are favourites to win the World Cup.