Southampton, England (AP) — The size and pace of the fast bowlers from the Caribbean has cricket watchers excited about a potential West Indies renaissance at the World Cup.
The fact one of them is playing for England makes it more intriguing.
Barbados-born Jofra Archer was a late inclusion in England’s squad after qualifying on residency in March.
West Indies coach Floyd Reifer said Archer “made his choice.” Now he’s going to have to live with it.
The 24-year-old Archer is set to lead the England attack against the West Indies on Friday, a showdown that will be in the spotlight.
Archer was the toast of London after taking three wickets against South Africa in England’s tournament-opening win, and has six wickets so far at the World Cup.
The West Indies have had plenty of choice in the pace department, with skipper Jason Holder working with Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas and Carlos Brathwaite to bounce out Pakistan for 105 and then cause defending champions Australia all kinds of trouble early before slipping to a 15-run loss.
Cottrell took two early wickets to have South Africa reeling at 29-2 on Monday before rain washed out the group game at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl. The Windies will take a 1-1-1 record back to Hampshire on Friday to face England, who have two wins and a loss.
While Archer has been a revelation to occasional cricket fans in England, he has long been on the watch list for selectors because of his English-born father. He was well known in the Caribbean as a Barbados Under-19 representative before deciding to see if his British passport was a way to reach the international level.
“To be honest, we knew Jofra for a long time. He is from Barbados,” said Reifer, who played cricket against a younger Archer in Barbados. “Yes, he’s bowling quickly, but there’s nothing that we are not accustomed to.”
England have never won the Cricket World Cup, but are the No. 1-ranked team and were pre-tournament favorites to win on home soil.
The West Indies were the original kings of one-day cricket, winning the first two World Cups and reaching the final in 1983. They haven’t been back to the final since.
Reifer noted that Archer had some injuries as a young, developing pace man learning the craft but always showed he had the talent to play international cricket.
“Definitely. He obviously had the pace. He had a few injuries as a young guy. But I’m guessing though he’s fully over those injuries and he is bowling very well for England,” Reifer said. “I’m sure Jofra will be chomping at the bit to come at us, and we will be ready for him.
“Jofra is a tremendous talent, we all know that. Like I said, we are looking forward to the game on Friday.”