England are preparing to unveil their provisional World Cup squad at Lord’s today and will finally declare their hand on wildcard pick Jofra Archer.
National selector Ed Smith will name an initial group of 15 for the tournament on home soil, alongside an expanded squad of 17 for the preceding series against Pakistan, with the newly-qualified Archer set for his maiden call-up.
The Barbados-born paceman – an eye-catching 90mph bowler and a star of the Twenty20 franchise circuit – was already guaranteed an audition versus Pakistan but the temptation to draft him immediately for both squads has also built a head of steam.
Even so, World Cup rules allow teams to make alterations up until May 22, the earlier deadline essentially serving marketing needs rather than sporting ones, meaning Smith’s pronouncement is not yet final.
Should Archer be included in the 15 but fare poorly in his early outings he could be unceremoniously ditched at the last minute, a fate that awaits someone else if the Sussex player is held in reserve at first and excels from the off.
Tom Curran and Yorkshire’s David Willey appear to be the seamers most likely to feel the heat, though the latter’s status as a left-arm option and the most consistent swinger of the Kookaburra ball may tip the scales in any head to head.
I’m sure there’s a few questions being thrown around by the selectors, a few names here and there, but I’d imagine the 15 is not too far off what you’d expect.Chris Woakes
Willey and Mark Wood are among those to have publicly pondered the potential of disruption in what has been a settled limited-overs squad and new-ball bowler Chris Woakes entered the fray yesterday, saying: “It (Archer’s World Cup selection) probably wouldn’t be fair, morally, but at the same time it’s the nature of international sport.
“I’m sure there’s a few questions being thrown around by the selectors, a few names here and there, but I’d imagine the 15 is not too far off what you’d expect. Whether that changes or not in due course we don’t know.
“It’s important for everyone to put some performances in to really cement their place in the squad.
“Whenever you’ve got an opportunity to perform for England you have to take it because there’s always someone knocking on your door who wants your position.
“Realistically there could be 17 or 18 players who could make the cut so it’s probably not the time to rest on your laurels.
“I want to be part of the XI, play that opening World Cup game and be a big part of the campaign.
“This tournament, being at home, is a great opportunity to do something beyond our wildest dreams and I’d love to be a part of that.”
For his part, Archer pressed his case for an England call with an inspired spell of bowling for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League yesterday.
Archer’s 3-15 from four overs included the wicket of the big-hitting Chris Gayle, but it was not enough to prevent the Royals sliding to a 12-run defeat to Kings XI Punjab at Chandigarh.
Gayle had made 30 when he was squared up by Archer’s extra pace and bounce and edged behind to wicketkeeper Sanju Samson.
Archer also removed Nicolas Pooran and Mandeep Singh.
Archer’s figures would have been even better but for overstepping on the crease and bowling David Miller off a no-ball.
Outside of the fast bowling ranks discussions will have been unusually straightforward with seven batsman inked in, Moeen Ali and Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid the frontline spinners and Joe Denly seemingly in possession as the squad’s utility man.
The likes of Chris Jordan and Sam Billings lead the pack hoping for a chance in the Pakistan series, followed by Sam Curran and Liam Dawson, while a standalone one-day international against Ireland on May 3 could also offer opportunities with IPL players Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, and Ali likely to be rested ahead of the tournament’s start on May 30.
England’s provisional World Cup squad (possible): E Morgan (c), J Roy, J Bairstow, J Root, J Buttler (wkt), B Stokes, A Hales, J Denly, M Ali, C Woakes, J Archer, L Plunkett, A Rashid, D Willey, M Wood.