Jofra Archer has got to get into that England squad somehow: Darren Gough
Jofra Archer playing for the Rajasthan Royals. (AFP Image)

Time is running out for Jofra Archer to represent England at the World Cup, but the 23-year-old fast bowler has received strong backing from Darren Gough, who believes the young fast bowler somehow needs to be drafted into the squad for the five-match ODI series against West Indies starting February 20.

Archer has not been included in the squad, and Liam Plunkett and David Willey from part of a pace attack that also comprises Mark Wood and Chris Woakes. But Gough, the former England fast bowler picked Archer ahead of Plunkett and Wood, calling him a “luxury” player.

“Attention now switches to the one-day series and for me Jofra Archer has got to get into that England squad somehow. There are a few players under pressure to perform and a couple who were not at their best in the Big Bash such as Liam Plunkett and David Willey,” Gough wrote for The Yorkshire Post.

“I would not say Plunkett is under too much pressure as he has been England’s best one-day bowler for the past 18 months. Willey came back from injury and missed Sri Lanka before the Big Bash and it did not go his way. This is a big tour for him. He has got variety and brings left-arm swing to the party, but if he does not perform Archer is waiting on the outskirts and there is also Tom Curran, who has had a good winter, and Denly.”

Archer has been a hot topic of discussion and despite having not played an ODI yet, the fast bowler has been heavily talked about, with the likes of Ashley Giles and captain Eoin Morgan showing interest regarding his selection for the World Cup. But with just a handful of matches to go before the cricket’s biggest extravaganza, Archer’s chances of booking a ticket to England seem to be diminishing.

“But if England win this series 5-0 they will not make any changes for the World Cup and Archer might come in after it. For me he is that talented a cricketer that we have to get him into the squad for the World Cup. He is that ‘luxury’ player that you need. But it is a case of who he gets in ahead of,” Gough added.

England lost the Test series 1-2, a series in which their selection was heavily debated. Coach Trevor Bayliss had explained how England’s top three still continues to be far from settled with Keaton Jennings, Rory Burns and Joe Denly jostling for their slots.

Besides, skipper Joe Root was criticised when he benched Stuart Broad from the first Test and insisted with Sam Curran, a move that in the hindsight may have cost them the series. But having won the third and final Test, England seemed to be getting back on track, and Gough feels it’s beginning to move in the right direction again.

“Looking at England’s win in the third Test in St Lucia, the one good thing moving forward for me is that there now seems an actual accountability for people’s performances in English cricket. I am not saying the personnel was right for the Test, but the selection was spot on at least,” Gough said.

“The balance was right at last, even if it took the selectors three Tests. They had five batsmen, the all-rounder at six, the wicket-keeper at seven and then our best bowlers. Now if Jonny Bairstow does not get runs at seven they will bring in Ben Foakes. If Jos Buttler does not get runs at five they will bring in a different batsman. There will now be a new opening batsman in place of Keaton Jennings.

Gough reckoned that barring a few places here and there, the rest of the England team picks itself.

“Bowling-wise Mark Wood had a brilliant spell of 5-41 although he did not look the same in the second innings. It tells us that we have to manage him well and pick him on the right pitches. The good thing now is we have Stuart Broad and James Anderson to open the bowling,” he said.

“Then, depending on the conditions, we have a choice as the third seamer between Wood, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes as Ben Stokes is better as the fourth as he is the all-rounder. That is great moving forward.”