Niall O’Brien: Windies loss is England’s gain as Archer hits the spot

Someone slipped up letting him get away


There must be a sense in the West Indies camp that Jofra Archer should be playing for them on Friday. They have to think they’ve made a big mistake letting him slip away.

He’s been absolutely sensational with the ball, in the field, he can even give it whack with the bat, and he’s got great character about him. He comes across as very charismatic and looks to have fitted right in with the team.

They’ll know what they’ve missed out on something going into this with the way he’s played.

But their loss is England’s gain.

And, at the moment, they’re really gaining from Jofra Archer. He’s going to be a huge part of this side, and not just for this World Cup but for the long haul. He’ll be involved this summer and for years to come.

He’s a class act, bowling fast and entertaining the crowds.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND – JUNE 05: Chris Gayle of West Indies makes his way to the outfield during a West Indies Nets Session at Trent Bridge on June 05, 2019 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images) (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

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Windies stirred by decisions

The West Indies will have to play well to trouble England. It’s a big pitch at Southampton, big boundaries, and that won’t suit the West Indies – although, when their batters hit the ball cleanly, it’ll usually land outside the stadium!

Chris Gayle obviously would need to fire but he’ll be up against a couple of fast bowlers and as you get on in age the reflexes mightn’t be as sharp, so it’ll be interesting to see how he takes on the quicks. He said he was going to get 200 on Friday the other day, so we’ll see if he can live up to his own expectations.

He had an interesting couple of overs against Australia. He got bowled and was given caught behind because the bails didn’t fall, then he was given LBW and that was overturned, and then he was given out again and it was umpire’s call.

It was certainly a fair call from my point of view, but there has been a bit of chat around the West Indies camp that they feel they’re not getting the rough with the smooth when it comes to decisions. Unfortunately, when the umpire gives you out, whether you like it or not, you’ve got to go.

It was a good test for them ahead of Friday’s game because Mitchell Starc was bowling fast and short and England will do the same. The Windies have more firepower too. Shai Hope is probably their best batsman at the moment, but whether they can play against the short-pitched bowling is going to be the key.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 30: Eoin Morgan of England returns to the pavilion after being caught by Aiden Markram of South Africa of the bowling of Imran Tahir during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between England v South Africa at The Oval on May 30, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Captain to the fore

They should’ve beaten Australia. They were going well in the second innings, they needed 37 off of 28 balls, which these days isn’t a very high run-rate to achieve. They had Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite at the crease, both set batsmen at that stage, and they really should’ve seen it home.

They took wrong decisions at the wrong time and Mitchell Starc bowled well, you have to give him credit for that. He was fast and aggressive and turned it around.

That’ll have hurt.

England were top class against Bangladesh. They were made bat in gloomy conditions on a greenish wicket by Bangladesh and there would’ve been tension in the air after the Pakistan loss. The Tigers would’ve been hoping to take some early wickets under the conditions, but they bowled very, very poorly.

Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow were both fantastic it must be said. They attacked the bowling and put bad balls away, creating more with their strokeplay, and once England reached 386 it was over. Saying that England still had to come out and bowl well. They did that and bowled fast too. Jofra Archer hit 155 kmph with one delivery, while Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett were all finding pace too.

One-Day International, Malahide Cricket Club, Dublin 3/5/2019
Ireland vs England
England’s Eoin Morgan during the warm up
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Southampton’s a ground England like too as they’ve played well there in recent years.

Jos Buttler’s available but may not be fully fit, it’s unlikely that Jason Roy would top-score two games in a row, Joe Root’s in good form but missed out last time. Jonny Bairstow is playing well too, but the captain for me looks to be in good nick and he plays well at the Rose Bowl, so I’d have a look at Eoin Morgan to lead England’s batting effort from the front on Friday. He’s playing well and I think that score he wants is around the corner.

Niall’s Pick of the Punts: Eoin Morgan top match batsman @ 10/1

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What do you think?