After weeks of speculation, selectors of the English cricket team finally made the decision that had been anticipated. Jofra Archer, the Barbados-born fast bowler, who has been making a big mark in T20 leagues across the world, has been selected in the 15-man squad for the World Cup.
Journey of Archer
He had failed to find a place in the provisional squad of the English team that was announced earlier but the selectors had given him Archer a lifeline by including him in the team for the one-off ODI against Ireland and the 5-match ODI series against Pakistan. The 24-year old right-armer performed well enough in these matches to show that his skills and qualities can be highly valuable in 50-over cricket also.
The question that bothered the English selectors was that if Archer is brought into the team, then which seamer from the initial squad would be left out? There were five pacers in the provisional squad namely, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Mark Wood and Tom Curran. One of them had to make way for the new kid on the block. In the end, the unfortunate person turned out to be David Willey.
The series against Pakistan saw almost all bowlers from the original squad showing their worth with decent performances in one match or the other. While Chris Woakes picked up a five-for in the final ODI, David Willey and Liam Plunkett bowled superbly in the second game to restrict Pakistan. Mark Wood's extra pace made him special while the tricks of Tom Curran gave him an advantage. So, the English selectors were facing a really tough choice. In the end, they decided that Willey would be the least bad option for dropping a player.
Apart from the expected inclusion of Archer, there are two other changes, one forced and one surprising. Alex Hales' ban meant that another batsman was needed in the unit. That place has gone to James Vince who has been playing in the series against Pakistan without much success. While he failed to cement his place in the Test side due to continuous failures, his record in domestic limited-overs games seems quite impressive.
There is one more change to the squad. England have recalled all-rounder Liam Dawson to replace another all-rounder Joe Denly. The latter hardly got an opportunity to show his qualities and he couldn't make much of them when they did arrive. Dawson, meanwhile, has been enjoying a very fruitful domestic season which brought him wickets and runs in abundance for Hampshire. He has been selected ahead of other contenders and may well get into the playing XI if England feel the need for another all-rounder besides Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali.
England's World Cup squad: Jonny Bairstow (WK), Jason Roy, James Vince, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (C), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler (WK), Liam Dawson, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Tom Curran