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‘I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes’ – Archer primed for debut after England call

Jofra Archer says that he has been “overwhelmed” by the speed of his elevation to England’s one-day squad, only weeks after becoming eligible to represent the country. His only focus, however, is on his debut series against Ireland and Pakistan next month, and says he is not looking to “step on any toes” in a bid for World Cup recognition.

Archer was omitted from the preliminary 15-man World Cup squad that was named by Ed Smith, the national selector, at Lord’s today, but included in an expanded 17-man party for the five ODIs against Pakistan, alongside his Sussex team-mate Chris Jordan.

He now looks set to make his England debut in the one-off ODI against Ireland in Dublin on May 3. And with Smith confirming that a strong showing from Archer could yet propel him into the final World Cup squad, which doesn’t have to be named until May 23, he knows the stage is his should he be ready to seize it.

“I’m going to give it my best shot,” Archer said. “I’ve worked pretty much all my life for this moment and I just want to tackle it and put my best foot forward. It should be a good series. Hopefully I get a chance to play and do myself justice.

“I’m not in the World Cup squad but it’s a great chance for me to show what I can do and anything can happen. If someone gets injured, I want to put myself in a position where I’m the first person they turn to.”

His rise to prominence comes only months after the ECB relaxed their qualification period for foreign-born players from seven years to three, meaning that Archer – who was born in Barbados but holds a British passport – was suddenly in the World Cup running, having initially expected to have to wait to play for England until 2022-23.

“It’s been an exciting three months but I’m surprised by how fast everything has happened,” he said. “I was fully prepared in my mind that it was going to be a seven-year job. 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.

“It’s always been about playing for England for me and I always made that very clear. I was prepared to wait but thankfully the chance has come sooner.”

Archer’s availability has not been met with universal approval from his prospective England team-mates, with many of the fast bowlers who have helped the team rise to become the No.1 ODI team now fearing that they will be the ones to miss out on the eve of the World Cup.

And though Archer said that he could understand the reticence from the likes of David Willey and Mark Wood, he insisted he was not out to “step on anyone’s toes”.

“This is a great England team that has been playing very well for a number of years leading into the World Cup,” he said.

“I understand the situation and I’m very happy with everything. 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.

“It’s already above and beyond my expectations and I’m just looking forward to meeting the team and playing cricket for England.

“It’s not all about the World Cup for me right now, it’s about playing against Pakistan which is what I’ve been selected for. It will still be the highlight of my career to play for England in the series 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. I’m just so excited to play against Pakistan and this is a position I didn’t imagine I would be in at this stage.”

Archer learned of his call-up ahead of Rajasthan Royals’ IPL clash with Kings XI Punjab in Mohali on Tuesday, and celebrated the feat with a superb spell of 3 for 15 in four overs – a performance that augured well for the scrutiny to come.

“It feels really overwhelming. I didn’t expect to ever be good enough to play for England until the last couple of years after I started doing well in T20 tournaments and it’s been a whirlwind period for me,” he said. “It’s really good to be acknowledged for what I’m doing, but it’s hard to put the feeling into words.

“I honestly thought I would have to wait a couple more years before I would be in contention for the full squad, I thought I would have to play for the Lions or something like that. So when [Ed Smith] called I was honestly surprised and it was overwhelming for me. I had heard all the rumours and chatter but I was playing cricket and didn’t give myself too much time to think about it.

“Cricket kept me distracted which was a good thing, because I didn’t’ really want to speak about it or get caught up in all the stuff around it.”

Archer will link up with his England team-mates at the end of April, where he will have three very familiar faces around him – his Rajasthan team-mates, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes (who last week described him as “the most naturally gifted bowler I’ve seen”) and Jordan, his fellow Sussex seamer who also comes from a Barbados background.

“We didn’t speak about England that much,” Archer said of his time in Stokes’ and Buttler’s company. “That might change now I’ve been called up!

“We’ve mainly been trying our best for Rajasthan Royals and get some points on the board which the team need. They are obviously great players and people and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share a pitch with them for England. It will be relaxing to have some familiar faces around.”

And on the subject of Jordan, who has also been given a late chance to press for World Cup inclusion, having not played an ODI since 2016, Archer was effusive.

“He’s been a part of every major cricketing feat I’ve had. My debut at Sussex, my first franchise tournament in Bangladesh, he was there in the Big Bash… he’s always been there every time I’ve done something in cricket.

“It would be a hugely proud moment to play with CJ for England, it’s definitely something we have talked about. We’ve done so much together, we’ve supported each other every step of the way and he deserves his call-up for the Pakistan series.”

Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1181247.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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