England's Jofra Archer has insisted it will be "just another game of cricket" should the Barbados-born fast bowler face his native West Indies in the World Cup. With Archer, who only qualified for England earlier this year, taking an impressive three for 29 in a 106-run win over Bangladesh in Cardiff on Saturday, it seems inconceivable, barring injury, that the tournament hosts leave him out of their side for Friday's match against the West Indies in Southampton.
Archer, whose father is English, was effectively lost to the West Indies when he moved to county side Sussex after overlooking the paceman for the Under-19 World Cup four years ago. "It's just same as the last game, just another game of cricket," said Archer.
"I know them pretty good. I played with a few of the guys at Under-19, so it will be good to actually play against them this time." Archer's ability to routinely top speeds of 90 mph makes him a hugely valuable asset and that speed was on show when a ball that clean bowled Bangladesh opener Soumya Sarkar flew off the top of the stumps and straight over the boundary without touching the ground at Sophia Gardens.
It was a feat that stirred comparisons with some of the quickest bowlers cricket has known and Archer, asked if he had ever seen anything like it before, replied: "It's probably the first time. "I've seen it go for six off a helmet before. But this is the first time I've seen it go off the stumps."
- Wood competition -
Archer is not the only express bowler in England's line-up, with Mark Wood also capable of blistering pace. Such was their speed in Cardiff, with the wind at their backs, that Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who made an admirable century, rated them the fastest bowlers at the World Cup.
Shakib's assessment may be disputed by the fast bowlers from other teams, but Archer believes his friendly rivalry with Wood can only be of benefit to England as they chase a first men's World Cup title. "I'm a little bit quicker than him," said Archer.
Cricket analysts Cricviz certainly credited Archer with higher average speed but reckoned Durham paceman Wood had bowled the fastest single ball of this year's World Cup so far at a rapid 95.6 mph (153.8 kph). "Huh? No, he didn't!" said an incredulous Archer.
"Only Woody's speed came up (on the big screen). None of mine did, actually. It was a bit biased really! "But it's a good competition to have someone at the other end. It pushes you to do a bit better. Any little thing that can make you better makes the team better. "It's nice to see but I'm much more concerned about bowling well. If I bowl at just 90 mph and I'm bowling well, I'd be much happier than bowling fast and going for six or seven an over."
He added: "A lot of the balls that were short weren't really supposed to be short but they still carried through. If I had the choice I'd take this (kind of pitch) for the rest of the tournament, if we could get it." Archer's relaxed mood after the Bangladesh match was in contrast to an irritable wicketless display in a defeat by Pakistan that saw him fined for making clear his displeasure at an umpire's wide call. "I wasn't cross, I was a bit emotional," said Archer of that incident. "Every game I play I'm very emotional. I take my cricket very seriously."
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