Southampton: England and West Indies will carry their intense rivalry from the Caribbean into the Rose Bowl here on Friday with Barbados-born pace sensation Jofra Archer adding spice to the World Cup contest.
The teams ended at 2-2 in their high-scoring five-match ODI series in February with one game being a washout. The series saw sensational performances from Chris Gayle, who smashed as many 39 sixes and amassed 424 runs in four innings.
The ‘Universe Boss’ will be backing himself for an encore against England whose bowling attack has become more potent with Archer’s addition. He has bowled with fire and venom so far in the competition and his face-off with Gayle is the one to watch out for.
Archer, who has played his junior cricket in the Caribbean and qualified to play for England only in April, is a familiar figure for the West Indies camp and it knows what the 24-year-old is capable of.
“To be honest, we knew Jofra for a long time. He is from Barbados, where we are from. We knew him from the U15s, U17s, U19s so he is not new to us. “Yes, he’s bowling quick, but there’s nothing that we are not accustomed to. We are looking forward to the challenge. So we will see how it goes on Friday,” said West Indies coach Floyd Reifer ahead of the game. West Indies also boast of express pace in their arsenal, adding to the excitement.
The Jason Holder-led side would be itching to take the field after a washout against South Africa at the same venue on Monday.
All-rounder Andre Russell, who has had chronic knee issues, was not named in the playing eleven against the Proteas. It remains to be seen if he regains full fitness for the England clash. England too had their fitness issues with key player Jos Buttler hurting his right hip against Bangladesh but coach Trevor Bayliss said he is expected to be fit for Friday’s game.
The fickle English weather has been a constant concern in this World Cup but rain is predicted to stay away for the majority of the game.
England captain Eoin Morgan is relieved to have Archer at his disposal.
“It is great that he’s in an England shirt at the moment,” Morgan told a news conference. “Jofra’s been very consistent over a long period of time since he came to Sussex.”
Asked if it might be distracting playing against some of his former West Indies colleagues, Morgan recalled his own experiences having switched allegiance to England from Ireland. “He won’t know how it will feel until he plays the game tomorrow,” Morgan said.
“I think being in that position myself it does feel different the first time you play against a side that either you could have potentially played for or played for. But I’m sure he will handle it like he’s handled everything else so far. Every challenge he’s come up against so far he’s come out the other side really well. So let’s see how it goes.
“We are not expecting anything majorly different.”
Quality fast bowling has been a feature of the tournament so far with Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir leading the wicket-taking charts with 10.
Australian speedsters Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are joint-second with nine apiece. With Mark Wood a doubt with a swollen ankle, Archer’s pace will be key for England on Friday.
“You need one, if not two (quick bowlers),” Morgan said. “Even the game yesterday, Australia against Pakistan. The big impact was when (Mitchell) Starc came back at the end of the innings to take those wickets. Even when you go back to games that we played in the winter, big games, the big contributions all had to do with the fast bowlers.”