Pace threat gives England extra edge at Cricket World Cup
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — There was no respite for Bangladesh’s batsmen. The England quicks just kept on coming.
In glided Jofra Archer, firing down deliveries at 95 miles per hour (153 kph) — quicker than anyone at the Cricket World Cup. Mark Wood was second change and he touched similar speeds. Then came Ben Stokes, topping 90 mph, and Chris Woakes at a relatively modest 87 mph.
Rarely — if ever — has England had such pace in its one-day international attack and it’s giving the team an extra edge in its bid for a first 50-over world title.
“It’s good competition really to have someone at the other end,” Archer said of the private battle between England’s pacemen in the 106-run win over Bangladesh at the World Cup on Saturday. “It pushes you to do a bit better. Any little thing that can make you better makes the team better.”
Archer — English cricket’s hottest new star — is the jewel of the attack and there’s a sense he is warming up nicely three games into the tournament, picking up three wickets against South Africa and Bangladesh either side of a 0-79 showing in England’s surprise loss to Pakistan.
Archer peppered the Bangladeshis with bumpers and hostile deliveries in Cardiff. One loose bouncer kicked up over England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who was standing halfway between the wicket and the 54-meter straight boundary at Sophia Gardens, and to the fence for five wides.
In a remarkable incident when Archer bowled opener Soumya Sarkar, the ball clipped the stumps, flew all the way over Bairstow and landed beyond the boundary rope.
“I’ve seen it go for six off a helmet before,” Archer said. “But this is the first time I’ve seen it go off the stumps.”
England’s next group-stage match is against the West Indies in Southampton on Friday. It’s a game that pits Barbados-born Archer against the country for whom he played youth cricket.
“Just another game of cricket,” was Archer’s verdict about the match.
The 24-year-old Archer was fast-tracked into England’s World Cup squad after the England and Wales Cricket Board recently changed its qualification rules, allowing players to be picked after three years of residency instead of seven.
It ruffled a few feathers, with Archer parachuted in at the expense of players who have helped lift England to the top of the ODI rankings in the four-year cycle between World Cups.
He has settled in well, though.
“Nah, I never doubted myself,” Archer said. “If you’re doubting yourself, I don’t think you’re ready and probably shouldn’t be here.
“I didn’t really notice the step up: Playing competitive cricket for the last few years against the same guys really, so it doesn’t really change anything. The only thing that changes is your uniform.”
England legspinner Adil Rashid said it was “the first time in a long time” that the team has had so much threat from its pacemen, and it potentially made his job easier.
“It’s nice to have that pace,” Rashid said, “knowing we can rough teams up and then for me to come in and hopefully someone comes after you and the wickets come for me that way.”
England captain Eoin Morgan must decide whether to retain the same speedy attack, with West Indies having also gone for all-out pace and aggression so far this tournament in the form of Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Andre Russell and Jason Holder.
Morgan’s decision may hinge on whether Moeen Ali is available. The allrounder, who provides a second spin option along with Rashid, was not at Sophia Gardens for the win over Bangladesh with his wife close to giving birth to their second child.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80