Discussion Points: Jordan, Jofra In The Room > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Talking points: Jordan, Jofra in the antechamber
England's much awaited 15-man preliminary squad for the 2019 World Cup had its fair share of anticipation and examination. Cricbuzz looks at some of the most important discussion spikes:
Like Avengers Endgame, it's finally here - with just as much deserved hype and expectation. Jofra Archer is soon to be an England player. Of course, that does not quite tally with today's actual announcement: Archer is not in the host's preliminary 15 for this summer's World Cup.
But he is named as one of two add-ons for the five-match ODI series with Pakistan that comes before the global tournament, along with fellow Sussex quick Chris Jordan. In turn, he will make his first appearance for England either in the ODI against Ireland on May 3 or the T20I against Pakistan two days later, like a comedian trying out material in a more intimate venue ahead of selling out the Apollo.
A potted history for those unaware (and there can't be many): Archer, born in Barbados, qualified for England on March 17 after completing a three-year qualification period. The 24-year-old has an English father and holds a British passport, but still had to jump through hoops which, when he started, required some seven years of residency. Those goalposts were almost certainly moved - the period in international purgatory more than halved - because of Archer's case. That case being he's really bloody good at cricket. In fairness to ECB decision-makers, though, this does bring them into line now with other ICC full-member nations.
Nevertheless, here we are. Archer has been international quality for two years now but must condense that all into a month's work to make a late charge for the final squad of 15 which is to be submitted on May 22. Going by what we've seen of him, this should be something of a formality. And while there is some outrage that he is not IN THE SQUAD, along with those on the other side of the fence hammering the "he's only played 14 List A games" line, the selectors have dealt with this matter well.
Now, the onus is on England's incumbents to do their bit to ensure it's not their place he's taking. The most vulnerable seems to be Liam Plunkett despite being the side's leading seamer in terms of wickets since the start of 2016 (71) and a vital cog during the middle overs (his economy since 2016 is 5.86). His pace has dropped, that observation made from those within the set-up, not just the speed gun. Even so, his nous and height is something that cannot just be removed on a whim.
There is something else to consider, too. Chris Woakes is due back bowling this week, but the noises around his general, long-term fitness are much less promising. He is the leader of the white ball bowling cartel but the tendonitis in his right knee requires constant management and will almost certainly preclude him from playing all nine group games even if he were to arrive at the tournament fighting fit.
Similar reservations are also held for Mark Wood, who missed Durham's recent four-day Championship game against Sussex to have two scans on his troublesome left ankle. He was originally made available for the first match of the season - another four-dayer, against Derbyshire - before the ECB decided to rest him for that, too.
The real Bajan surprise
So, Chris Jordan eh? Wonderful scenes. Arguably the biggest turn-up of the lot. Archer's inclusion was always on the cards, but the presence of "big brother" Jordan has caught most by surprise. Not least because it was only a couple of months ago in the Caribbean that national selector Ed Smith pointed to non-transferrable Twenty20 skills as a reason why Jordan's immediate return to the 50-over side seemed unlikely.
The last time Jordan played an ODI was in September 2016, though the signs were there before that particular match against Pakistan that selectors starting to look beyond him, turning out in 12 of 44 possible matches in those previous two years. Even with his impressive form during the recent West Indies T20 series - an economy rate of 5.14 across three games and six wickets, including a freakish 4 for 6 - it seemed the avenue was closed to him entirely.
Yet here we are, with Jordan some strong performances against Pakistan away from giving the selectors further headaches. The more mischievous might say that after a few in the England camp voiced concerns over Archer's inclusion, the presence of Jordan could at least alleviate the tension and, at worst, provide him with some back-up. Speaking of which...
In the last few months, Woakes, Plunkett, Wood and David Willey have all had their say on the inclusion of Archer because... well, they've all been asked. And while the answers have varied - Plunkett, the most vulnerable, would understand; Willey, the left-arm option, not particularly enamored with the idea; Wood comparing him to Faustino Asprilla, the Colombian who inadvertently derailed Newcastle's Premier League title charge in the 1995/96 season - the general response has not been totally warm.
Context is important here, as Woakes himself pushed on Twitter yesterday when he felt he was being misquoted by the BBC. "It probably wouldn't be fair, morally," he started when asked about Archer's selection at the expense of an England bowler who had performed well for the last few years, before adding, "but at the same time it's the nature of international sport".
National selector Ed Smith addressed the nature of these comments in every bit of media he did, urging each consumer to "read those comments carefully". He put the onus on those reporting the quotes to do so fairly and championed Woakes as "an outstanding man" who "answered the question instinctively". Wood, too - "another good man, very loyal to his friends in the team". All perfectly reasonable.
But never mind the caveats, there is clearly a degree of uncomfortableness among the England squad. Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss are very much responsible for the camaraderie that sees the bowlers looking out for each other and it is crucial for them to tackle this issue and make Archer feel a welcome part of the team. Regardless of whose mate might miss out.
Has Joe Denly won a competition?
Never mind Tiger Woods, how's this for a comeback: just 12 months ago, Joe Denly was a 32-year-old Division Two batsman, doing well for Kent (very well for Kent, to be fair) and looking at Twenty20 to satiate any desires for high-level cricket, having not played an international in 10 years. Now, he's added Test and T20I caps to his locker along with a spot at a World Cup.
Denly last played ODI cricket in 2009 and his role within the wider squad is to offer batting throughout the order and better-than-passable leg spin, though not a patch on Adil Rashid. Indeed, his List A numbers even in the last season do not have him as the best available alternate in either discipline if last year's Royal London One-Day Cup is anything to go by.
He was outscored by James Vince (527 runs) and out-leg-spun by Matt Parkinson (18 wickets) and Mason Crane (15). But he is very much a utility pick and, to be fair, 492 runs and 14 wickets in that 2018 season is very good going. When Smith says he regards Denly's talents as "unusual", he means it as a compliment: "He is also one of England's leading spinners in white ball cricket. That combination in a squad of 15 is pretty handy. And he's a very good athlete and fielder. That combination of skills is unusual. Very unusual - I haven't seen [anything] exactly analogous to that skillset."
The question is, though, how much trust will there be in him if and when he is needed for the World Cup proper? He could also be one to make way for Archer if Eoin Morgan decides he'd like more fast-bowling options.
Thumbs up for franchise T20
National selector Ed Smith has always respected Twenty20 cricket. A few years ago he was involved with Royal Challengers Bangalore as a strategy consultant and has written extensively on T20. His first move as national selector was to pluck Jos Buttler out of the IPL and back into Test cricket which, to this day, is a decision to hang his hat on.
But the influence on today's selections is perhaps English cricket's biggest acknowledgment of franchise T20 as a marker for excellence in other formats. "Experience comes in many forms now - obviously franchise cricket is a valid form of high-pressure experience," answered Smith when Denly's selection in the preliminary 15 questioned for the second time.
Since the start of the 2016/17 Big Bash League, Joe Denly has scored 1,769 T20 runs in 55 matches across the BBL, IPL, Bangladesh Premier League, T20 Blast and Pakistan Super League, averaging 37.63 at a strike rate of 132.31 according to CricViz. In the 23 innings in which he has bowled across those same games, his 24 wickets have come at 20.20 with a steady economy rate of 7.80.
Archer though is the franchise poster boy, wowing at those five competitions with incredible feats of athleticism and batting to accompany his 110 wickets from 82 innings across the same period, with a similar economy rate of 7.82. Jordan's 67 wickets across 62 innings (economy of 8.09) do not jump out at you as much, but considering he, like Archer, bowls consistently at the death - he's also played in New Zealand's Super Smash which have arguably the shortest boundaries on the circuit - they do reflect his undoubted skill at the end of an innings.
The crowds, responsibilities and subsequent pressure of franchise cricket best mimic what a cricketer might face in the knock-out stages of a World Cup. For their performances in that environment, they are on the cusp of representing England in the tournament that matters most.
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