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World Cup 2019: All aboard the Archer Express

ANALYST
Feature
479   //    31 May 2019, 02:12 IST

Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer

You rarely have a cricketer debut internationally a couple of weeks before the World Cup and then get selected for the lucrative tournament. Jofra Archer is something special though; after the first game of the 2019 World Cup, he has proved to all the critics that him getting fast-tracked into the England World Cup squad was worth it.

Archer has starred in T20 leagues around the world and proved to be a match winner for every team that he played for. He still had to face plenty of criticism with people saying that International cricket is a different ball game altogether and bowling 10 overs is more challenging than a short four-over burst.

However, the English selectors wanted to give Archer a chance, so he debuted against Ireland on May 3rd, 2019 and then played a few matches against Pakistan in the T20Is and ODIs that followed. Archer was impressive, and although he might not have picked up a five-wicket hall or anything like that, he bowled with genuine pace and troubled the Pakistani batsmen consistently. 

Many people also thought that it was unfair on David Willey who had been part of the English set up for a while now but had to make way for someone who never played an International game. There were rumours that Archer's inclusion might cause a split in the dressing room and that fast-tracking a player can break the substantial unity that has been built by the English cricket team over the last four years.

All that talk has now been thrown out the window with Archer lighting up the World Cup in the first game itself against South Africa. He took 3 wickets for just 27 runs in 7 overs at an economy of 3.85, in a simply outstanding performance. Archer hurried the South African batsmen with his sheer pace and accuracy. His run-up is deceptive and he does not steam in, but he generates speed from his hip rotation and shoulder strength which surprises batsmen, who don't expect him to be that quick.

We saw Faf du Plessis getting hurried by a rapid Archer bouncer as he mistimed a shot straight to fine-leg. Then Hashim Amla faced the Jofra music, as he copped a 90 mph bouncer on his head which led to the South African retiring hurt. It was a vicious and fiery spell from Archer, something you really don't see from English bowlers, which is why this man is so special for this team.

If that wasn't enough, Archer came back in the middle overs and dismissed the well-settled Rassie van der Dussen who had just reached his 50 and was looking to take the game deep. That wicket sealed the deal for England and eventually they won the match by a massive 104-run margin which sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. 

Let's not forget Ben Stokes, who scored 89 off 79 balls, picked up two wickets and took an astonishing catch in the deep. He is the glue to this English team with his various attributes and if he continues this form then it will be tough to stop England. Although Stokes deservedly received the Man of the Match award, the real stand out performance in this World Cup opener was by Jofra Archer. 

Archer can bowl with the new ball, in the middle overs and in the death overs. He might be the X-factor that England needs to break the jinx and finally lift a World Cup trophy. This performance from Archer is a rude awakening for all other teams in the World Cup, who will have their turn to experience the 'Jofra Express' first hand.

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