‘This group should be together for years – we can make history’
Jofra Archer tells Jeremy Wilson why a whirlwind start to his England career promises more
So just what makes Jofra Archer tick? The prism of a formal interview provides partial answers but, after a summer that will be forever associated both with that super over and then his attempt to bounce England back into a memorable Ashes series, this past weekend in Horsham delivered a genuinely revealing insight.
Cricket Field Road, the quaint home to Horsham Sports Club, was where Archer arrived when he came to England from Barbados in 2016 and it was also where he returned – complete with the International Cricket Council’s World Cup trophy – at the end of a life-changing summer.
“It is always nice to come back here – I come back when I am on a break as well,” he says. “Probably everyone here was supporting me through the summer. They gave me the opportunity. It is fitting to come back.”
Some of the stories have since gone into local club cricket folklore. There was the time, at Roffey, when he hit a six through a nearby bedroom window, along with the memory of the club’s wicketkeeper having to stand some 22 yards from the wicket (roughly halfway to the boundary), whenever Archer was bowling.
During a question-and-answer session with the club’s members, Archer also did not hesitate when asked who he would most like to be on the receiving end of his first 100mph delivery. David Warner, Steve Smith or Matthew Wade, perhaps? No. “Sean Overton,” he says, peering out into the audience at the club cricketer with whom he was travelling to a five-a-side football game when he got the call to say he had been selected for the second Ashes Test.
What was also most striking in the Q&A, and then during an interview, was the sense that winning the World Cup and then starring in an iconic Ashes series was just the start of an international career that hopefully will contain plenty of comparable highlights.
How did he feel when he came to bowl the World Cup final super over? “I was not nervous at all – probably because I didn’t realise until about 30 seconds before,” he says. “Anyone could have bowled the super over. If we lost there is always another game. At the moment it is still early in my career.
“Hopefully we can win the T20 World Cup next year. We want to climb the rankings in the Test Championship. We can make history. We have started already. Hopefully we can win back-to-back [World Cups]. Everyone is around the same age in the group. We will be together for a lot more years.”
In terms of Archer’s own development, at the age of 24, he is keen to emphasise the importance of bowling attributes other than just pure pace, and says that it would be “pretty special” to bowl in a future England attack also containing James Anderson.
“No one will bowl at 90mph all day, every day,” he says. “There will
‘Cricket is hard enough – you have to stand up for yourself and stand up for your team’
be spells when you have to bowl within yourself. You can be in India bowling at 90mph and it doesn’t matter because the wickets are flat and the batsmen are really good. Sometimes you have to be patient and just hit some areas. You might have to take some time.”
That, though, should not be taken as evidence of any compromise in his outlook. It is a question of picking the optimum moments for the sort of hostile bowling and body language we saw this summer against Australia.
“It’s just part of the game – I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it. I would just say it had to be done at certain points in the game,” he says. “Cricket is hard enough: stand up for yourself and stand up for the team. I pretty much know what I need to do cricket-wise and mentally. I’m at a stage where I know how to look after myself. I’ve found what works for me.”
Archer’s eyes do then light up when he sees dozens of budding young cricketers on the Horsham outfield and is asked about this chance to grow cricket in England. His visit to Horsham is one of 15 to clubs around the country, complete with World Cup trophy, by England’s victorious squad.
“I’ve seen many videos of kids playing, doing their celebrations in the back garden,” he says. “I think the World Cup is going to get spoken about for many years to come. I think I have seen it on TV almost every week. We do need to use it. We need to push it a lot further. Look at the kids. It’s wet and muddy, but I don’t think they care. It makes us happy to see them playing and wanting to do better.”
Archer is an advocate of the Hundred – “there is enough time in the year to play everything, I think it is time to try something new and we never know where this might lead” – and is clearly proud to see first hand so many children just in Sussex who he has inspired.
His advice? “Never give up. If no one believes in you, you have to believe in yourself. It’s gone better than I expected. You never know where cricket can take you in two weeks, two months or a year.
“You never know what that one-off game will do. Anything is possible.” And Archer, who was among the club cricketers at Horsham only last summer, is living proof of that message.
Epic summer: Jofra Archer poses with the World Cup and his ODI and Test shirts