‘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

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport Cricket -

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

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