Jofra Archer celebrates dismissing Soumya Sarkar of Bangladesh during the group stage
On a July day in rural Sussex four years ago, the skipper of a village cricket team tossed the ball to their opening bowler more in hope than expectation.
For the 20-year-old was recovering from a bad back and the team’s opponents had a strong batting reputation.
But what happened next had the handful of spectators marvelling.
In five overs of fast bowling, the young man dismissed the first five batsmen for just eight runs, shattering the stumps of three of them.
‘That was the moment we knew we were looking at a very special talent,’ says Matt Warren, chairman of Middleton Cricket Club.
Tomorrow, that ‘special talent’ is England’s big hope in the World Cup Final.
For on Thursday — exactly four years to the day since that match in the amateur Sussex cricket league — Jofra Archer, now 24, opened the bowling for England against Australia and destroyed the opposition.
Doubtless many of the estimated one billion global TV audience will want to see if the man billed as the sport’s next superstar lives up to the hype.
Not only has Archer taken more wickets than any other England bowler at a World Cup, passing Sir Ian Botham, he has also notched up some of the fastest deliveries, including a helmet-rattling 95mph — from what has been described as a ‘nonchalant run-up’.
How to watch:
See the game live at 10.30am tomorrow on Sky Sports and Channel 4.
But had things turned out differently, Archer might have been England’s nemesis rather than our hero.
Born and raised in Barbados, he started as a slow spin bowler, only turning to pace at the age of 15.
Archer progressed into the West Indies under-19 team but became disillusioned with the West Indies cricket board in 2014 after not being selected for their under-19 World Cup squad.
‘Once I knew it was an option, it was an easy decision to move to England,’ he later said.
His English father, Frank, reportedly worked for many years as a London Underground driver and now lives in Liverpool. Archer has only ever held a British passport.
How to sound like an expert:
What a yorker!
When a bowler directs a full-length delivery at the batsman’s toes, making it hard to hit.
He’s out for a duck
A batsman’s out without scoring a run.
That’s a great maiden!
No run was scored in the over
He definitely edged that!
When a batsman mishits his shot and the ball comes off the edge of the bat.
He was invited to try out for Sussex who found him a place as an overseas player with south coast team from Middleton-on-Sea.
Evidence of his love of the game was seen in 2014 while on a tour to the West Country to play friendly games with the cricketing equivalent of a ‘pub’ team.
Called Two Hopes Cricket Club, Archer and Akeem Jordan, another Bajan cricketer playing for a club side in West Sussex, had been invited to bolster numbers on the trip to Cornwall.
Staying in a rented house, Archer impressed his fellow players by pitching in with the cooking and washing up.
Ever since, his stock has only risen, his fast bowling since making him one of the most prized commodities on the international T20 circuit, in which each side bats for just 20 overs.
It has been reported that in the autumn he will be offered a central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board worth in the region of £1 million a year.
Money from playing in the Indian Premier League and endorsements could see him easily double that sum.
Not bad for someone who, just four years ago, was a virtual unknown.
From royal hat-tricks to a flaming batsman, a very colourful history
Think cricket’s a bit of a stuffy sport? You couldn’t be more wrong, says MARCUS BERKMANN…
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle playing cricket
- The greatest of all royal cricketing achievements must be that of George VI who took a hat-trick (three wickets in three consecutive balls). All his victims were present or future kings. It happened on the private ground at Windsor Castle. First up was Edward VII, his grandfather: bowled. Second: his father, George V: bowled. Third: his brother David, later Edward VIII: also bowled.
- The only cricketer ever to catch fire while playing at Lord’s was Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, playing for the MCC against Kent in 1903. ‘The first delivery I hardly saw, and it landed with a terrific thud upon my thigh,’ he wrote in Memories And Adventures. ‘A little occasional pain is one of the chances of cricket, and one takes it as cheerfully as one can, but on this occasion it suddenly became sharp to an unbearable degree. I clapped my hand to the spot, and found I was on fire. The ball had landed straight on a small tin Vesta box in my trousers pocket, had splintered the box, and set the matches ablaze.’
- Wartime RAF pilot Bill Edrich refused to give up county cricket even while pounding the Germans from the skies. He claimed that in one particularly eventful 48 hours, he flew two bombing missions, scored a century for Norfolk and bedded a local girl.
- Playwright Sir Harold Pinter said: ‘I tend to believe that cricket is the greatest thing God ever created on earth . . . certainly greater than sex, although sex isn’t too bad either.’
- Renowned commentator John Arlott began his career as a Hampshire policeman but quit when he landed the job of overseas literary producer at the BBC . . . a post previously held by George Orwell.
- Cricketers like to squeeze puns into the titles of their memoirs. Mike Atherton called his Opening Up; Richie Benaud’s was My Spin On Cricket; Geoffrey Boycott’s: Put To The Test; Basil D’Oliveira’s: Time To Declare; Alan Knott: It’s Knott Cricket and Michael Holding: No Holding Back.
- Hitler regarded cricket as ‘insufficiently violent’ for Nazis. He was taught to play by British PoWs during World War I, but particularly disliked wearing leg pads — ‘unmanly and unGerman’.
Berkmann’s Cricketing Miscellany, by Marcus Berkmann
His superstar team-mates will knock you for six, too
by Richard Kay
Eoin Morgan, 32
Eoin Morgan and wife Aussie Tara Ridgway
Born: Dublin. Nickname: Moggie.
Partner: He married Aussie Tara Ridgway, a PR for Burberry, last year. They have been together since 2010.
Who is he? Our Captain Fantastic and the driving force in the team.
But he’s Irish, right? Correct. He played 23 internationals for Ireland before switching in 2009.
How did that go down? Mixed. It didn’t help that he avoided singing God Save The Queen.
So is he English or Irish? His mum is from Ipswich.
How good is he? Very. Against Afghanistan, he hit 17 sixes.
Joe Root married Carrie Cotterell last year. They have a son, Alfie
Joe Root, 28
Born: Sheffield. Nickname: Rooty.
Partner: Married Carrie Cotterell last year. They have a son, Alfie.
Who is he? The salvation of English cricket. Test team captain.
Eh, come again? There are three England teams who play different lengths of games. Root’s in all three and captains the five-day game.
Does he get lots of runs? Plenty. He was the youngest England player to score a century in an Ashes test against Australia at Lord’s.
Jos Buttler married Louise in 2017. They have a daughter called Georgia Rose
Jos Buttler, 28
Born: Taunton, Somerset.
Partner: Married Pilates instructor Louise in 2017 after a stag do in Amsterdam. Recently celebrated the birth of daughter Georgia Rose.
Who is he? The most thrilling and destructive batsman in world cricket. That’s some boast.
But he’s ranked 14th? Computers can’t measure brilliance. Buttler is devastating.
Jason Roy married Elle Winter in 2017 and had their first child Everly in March
Born: Durban, South Africa.
Partner: Married Elle Winter in 2017 and had their first child, daughter Everly, in March.
Who is he? The baby-faced terminator.
Terminator? Of opposition bowling attacks, like the Aussies this week. When England bat well, it is usually thanks to the blistering start provided by Roy, who moved to England aged 10.
Jonny Bairstow is single but was linked to Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson
Jonny Bairstow, 29
Nickname: JB or YJB, for Young Jonny Bairstow.
Partner: He’s single, but was briefly linked to fellow redhead and Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson.
Who is he? With JRoy, he has taken England to new batting heights.
Was he always a keen cricketer? No. At school, he idolised rugby flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson.
Chris Woakes, 30
Nicknames: Woakesy and Wizard.
Partner: Married to childhood sweetheart Amie, and had their first child, a girl, last year.
Chris Woakes married his childhood sweetheart Amie, and had their first child, a girl, last year
Who is he? Mr Dependable. He bowls, he bats, he fields — but it’s his reputation as a ‘death bowler’ that has enhanced his stature.
Death bowling? Yes, bowling at the end of an innings when batsmen look to slog and make quick runs. He’s best at nullifying that threat.
Ben Stokes is married to Clare Ratcliffe, a school teacher. They have two children
Ben Stokes, 28
Born: Canterbury, NZ. Nickname: Stokesy.
Partner: Married to Clare Ratcliffe, a school teacher. They have two children.
Who is he? Tattooed tough guy. Moved to England when his dad got a rugby coach job.
So he’s the bad boy? Yes. He was fined £15,000 after a punch-up in Bristol in 2017.
On the pitch? Talisman and ace fielder.
Adil Rashid is married with two children
Adil Rashid, 31
Nicknames: Rash, Dilly.
Partner: Married with two children.
Who is he? The smiling assassin. Called the most indispensable, his spin bowling ties batsmen in knots.
Is he popular? He burst onto the scene with six wickets against Warwickshire in 2006. He’s never looked back.
Mark Wood, 29
Mark Wood is married to Sarah, a teacher
Partner: Married to Sarah, a teacher.
Who is he? Wood’s 95mph deliveries are amazing, as was his run-out of the New Zealand captain in the group game.
What happened? He rapidly stuck out a hand to divert a shot onto the batsman’s stumps.
Liam Plunkett, 34
Liam Plunkett and US wife Emeleah Erb
Nickname: Pudsey, after the Children In Need bear.
Partner: He and U.S. wife Emeleah Erb split their time between Pennsylvania, Harrogate and Pimlico.
Who is he? A 6ft 3in giant who terrifies batsmen. Since the last World Cup, no other fast bowler has taken more wickets in the middle of a game.
A bluffers guide to cricket:
There are three kinds of cricket: test matches which last five days; T20s in which each side has 20 overs each to score the most runs; and the One-Day International, the format in which England aim to beat New Zealand tomorrow.
The World Cup consists of one-day games, where each batting side receives 50 ‘overs’ in which to score as many runs as possible.
Each ‘over’ consists of six balls, with each bowler limited to ten overs in the whole game.
One-day cricket is about batsmen trying to score runs quickly and the fielding team trying to limit them.
Shots for four runs (where it passes the boundary after bouncing) and six runs (it passes the boundary without touching the ground) excite the crowds, but the one-day game is as much about nudging the ball around to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Batsmen can be bowled, or caught by a fielder. Others forms of dismissal include: leg before wicket or LBW (when the umpire decides that if the ball hadn’t hit the batsman’s pads it would have hit the stumps); and run out, when the batsman sets off for a run but a fielder manages to throw the ball at the stumps before he reaches the end. Once ten batsmen are out the innings is over.
Bowlers vary in style. A spin bowler relies on making the ball rotate when it hits the pitch.
Medium pacers manipulate their grip to make it swing in the air, as do fast bowlers.
A wide is where the ball is too wide for the batsman to reach, and results in a run for the batting side, plus an extra ball in the over.