Jofra Archer believes IPL pressure will prepare him for World Cup

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May
21

Jofra Archer believes that his experience of performing under pressure at the IPL will help him to deal with the spotlight of his maiden World Cup, after he was named in England’s final World Cup squad only weeks after making his international debut.

Jofra, 24, has played just three ODIs and a T20I since his first appearance for England in Malahide earlier this month. But he has impressed with his 90mph pace and versatility as both a new-ball and death-overs bowler, and was named in the final 15 this morning ahead of David Willey.

“I got a call from Ed Smith yesterday, maybe at about six o’clock or so,” Archer told Sky Sports News. “I was actually driving at the time and I just felt the phone vibrate and I answered it without looking at it, then that to stop myself and say “good evening”. But it was really, really exciting to be a part of a big summer for English cricket.”

Archer’s rise to international recognition has been dramatic. Late last year, he had still been reconciled to spending a full seven years completing his residency qualification, which would have made him available to England by 2021-22. But when the ECB reduced that period to three years, he suddenly became available in March this year

“I had got it in my head that I’d have to wait seven years,” he said. “Then back in December, they obviously changed it a little bit, but I was prepared to wait however long it would take.”

In between spending the obligatory 210 days a year in the UK to fufil his residency obligations, Archer had been making his name on the T20 circuit with notable spells in numerous domestic competitions, notably with Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash and Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. Prior to his England call-up, he had played just 14 50-over matches in his professional career, but insisted he was not worried by this lack of specific experience.

“I think I’m ready,” he added. “I’ve played a lot of cricket outside of 50 overs. And I know to deal with the pressure of crowds. Obviously because I was playing franchise cricket, that was the reason why it wasn’t able to play much List A cricket for Sussex, but you don’t forget how to bowl. And I think you get more opportunities to bowl than in T20s, you get another six extra overs there to take more wickets.”

Furthermore, Archer’s regular encounters with some of the best players in the world on the T20 circuit mean that he is arguably better prepared for dealing with the talent in the World Cup than many more experienced international bowlers.

“I think I probably have a bigger advantage over some of the other guys in our team,” he said. “We play [these guys] twice a [season] in the IPL, so you know their weaknesses, you know their strengths, you know if they can’t run between the wickets … it gets you an extra bit of inside information.

“To be honest, I think international cricket is probably the same intensity as the IPL,” he added. “‘I think the only thing that changes is the amount of overs but, ever since I’ve started, the pressure is really intense. It’s different, but it still isn’t different.”

Despite some outspoken comments in the media from his rivals for World Cup selection – not least David Willey, the man whom he pipped to the final spot – Archer insisted he could not have been made more welcome by his new team-mates.

“Everyone welcomed me with open arms from the moment I got in,” he said. “It’s a really good team to be a part of, with great players, a great captain, great support staff and coaches. It’s probably one of the better teams have played in.”

Asked whether England were ready to live up to their billing as the No.1 ODI team in the world, and pre-tournament favourites, Archer said there would be pressure in a home tournament regardless of the team’s merit. However, he felt that the experience of grinding out results in a long county season would play into the squad’s hands as they embark on a tough six-week campaign.

“This is what the county season prepared us for,” he said. “The county season is about five or six months long, just relentless. I don’t think it should feel any different for any of our guys because we usually play from March to September anyway. For a lot of the teams, this isn’t their summer, they are not usually playing cricket at this time of year. So these are the little things that can work in our favour.”

Asked who he was most looking forward to dismissing during the World Cup, Archer namechecked India’s captain, Virat Kohli. But he also added that the best player that he had bowled to during the IPL was his own England team-mate, Jos Buttler, in the nets with Rajasthan.

“I’d quite like to get Virat out, because I wasn’t able to get him in the IPL because I think a leggie got him in every game he played. I also wanted to bowl at AB [de Villiers] as well, but don’t think he’s playing for South Africa. And probably Chris Gayle again.

“But Buttler, he’s amazing, he’s a 360 cricketer, he can hit you straight down the ground and can paddle you right behind the keeper’s head… I don’t think anywhere’s safe as a bowler.”

“I’ve not really had a chance to speak to him about batting, but I spoke to Ben [Stokes] when we batted in the middle a few times in the IPL. If the opportunity to bat does come in the World Cup, having a familiar face at the other end should help calm the nerves.”

Further afield, there is also the prospect of Archer making his England Test debut with the Ashes looming in August.

“If they do [pick me], I’d be over the moon,” he said. “But for right now I’ve got a World Cup to think about. I don’t expect to waltz in to the Test team either so, if selected, I’ll work my butt off. But, if not, I’ll go back to Sussex and keeping putting in performances.”

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