England captain Eoin Morgan knows better than most the emotions Jofra Archer will experience when the fast bowler plays against his native West Indies for the first time. Dublin-born batsman Morgan, who switched allegiance from Ireland to England a decade ago, is set to lead the tournament hosts against the Caribbean side in a World Cup group match in Southampton on Friday. Barring a late injury, Morgan’s team will include Barbados-born quick Archer, who only qualified for England earlier this year but whose ability to bowl at speeds of up to 95 mph now makes him a central figure as they chase a first 50-over World Cup title. Archer, whose father is English, could have been playing for the West Indies had he not been overlooked for the Under-19 World Cup four years ago.
That fateful decision was to spark a chain of events that saw Archer joining Sussex and then begin the process of qualifying to play international cricket for England. Now he will be be up against plenty of familiar faces in fellow Bajans such as West Indies captain Jason Holder and Shai Hope, as well as former youth team-mates Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer. Morgan, recalling his own first experience of playing against Ireland for England, said Thursday: “I think it is a moment where you reaffirm your decision.”
“When you play against guys that you’ve played with at age-group level, it feels like a club game against your mates you’ve known for a long time, compared to playing against strangers. That’s the different feel.
“Being in that position myself it does feel different. He won’t know how it feels until he plays the game. If I feel the need (to speak to him) I will, but I haven’t yet.”
Meanwhile, Morgan backed the 24-year-old Archer, who has taken nine wickets in six one-day internationals at a healthy average of 27, to cope with the inevitable scrutiny that will come his way on Friday. “I’m sure he will handle it like he’s handled everything else in the tournament so far,” said his skipper.
“Every challenge he has come up against so far he has come out the other side really well. So let’s just see how it goes, we are not expecting anything majorly different.
“Jofra is extremely interesting because everything he has been confronted with, particularly out on the field, he has overcome.
“He’s still learning, he’s a very young, he has a lot of talent, and that is great for us. It’s great that he’s in an England shirt now.”