Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan back in England frame for T20 World Cup

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England are ready to include Jofra Archer in their T20 World Cup squad after a year out through injury, while the experienced Chris Jordan is also back in the frame.

Archer has not played competitive cricket since last May due to a recurrence of a stress fracture in his troublesome right elbow, but he has been earmarked to spearhead the England attack in a title defence co-hosted by his native West Indies.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is approaching Archer’s return with caution after multiple breakdowns over the past four years and has already ruled him out of the Test arena until 2025 at the earliest, but it hopes the less demanding 20-over format allows him to relocate his full form and fitness.

Like Archer, Jordan was born in Barbados before making his way with England and the 35-year-old looks to have earned a spot in Tuesday’s 15-man squad. He missed out on the winter tour to the Caribbean but with Jamie Overton injured his vast experience – including four T20 World Cups and more T20 wickets than any other English seamer – may have swayed the selectors.

As well as knowing the terrain, and being a close friend and confidant of Archer, Jordan remains an impeccable fielder and has captaincy experience.

England will also name an expanded squad to take on Pakistan in a four-match home series at the end of May, but the overwhelming priority is to improve on last year’s dire defence of their 50-over crown. Chris Woakes, one of those who underperformed during the early stages of that competition, could pay with his place.

While there are plenty of bad memories of India among the survivors from that trip, there can be little doubt that events at the ongoing Indian Premier League have already enhanced England’s prospects.

Question marks had started to creep in over Jonny Bairstow’s place after an indifferent run of form over a gruelling winter, but after regaining his place in the Punjab Kings side he struck a thunderous 108 from 48 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders last Friday, steering his side to a world record T20 chase.

By the end of the evening at Eden Gardens, where Bairstow thrashed nine sixes and eight fours, the very idea of England travelling to the Caribbean without the 34-year-old looked fanciful.

His preferred slot as captain Jos Buttler’s opening partner is still expected to go to Phil Salt, who grabbed pole position with back-to-back hundreds against the West Indies in December, and the latter’s dynamic form for the Knight Riders has only seen his stock grow in recent weeks.

The same is true of Surrey’s Will Jacks, whose offering as a spin bowling power hitter makes him ideal for Caribbean pitches.

He could benefit directly from Ben Stokes’ decision to declare himself unavailable for the World Cup by taking up a place in the first-choice XI and picked a perfect time to peak with a 41-ball century for Royal Challengers Bangalore just 24 hours before the selectors made their final deliberations.

Buttler is another Englishman with an IPL ton to his name this season and his Rajasthan Royals side currently top the standings, raising interesting questions over whether his preparations would be better served by staying with the franchise for the business end or returning to lead his country against Pakistan.

All-rounders Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran are also set to join up from the IPL, as is seamer Reece Topley, while Harry Brook has been tuning up with Yorkshire after stepping away from the tournament for personal reasons.

Ben Duckett is hoping to make the cut as the spare batter, with his left-handedness and ability to fit in anywhere across the top six both attractive qualities.

Established spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are going to need some back-up, with left-armer Tom Hartley vying with leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed.

Ahmed has earned T20 caps since becoming England’s youngest men’s international in the format last March, while the uncapped Hartley impressed with his maturity in the recent Test tour of India and is an experienced white-ball operator with Lancashire.

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