England’s Test captain Joe Root admits Jofra Archer is an Ashes contender this summer.
Barbados-born Archer has impressed on the one-day international stage since completing his three-year qualification period to represent England.
Archer followed up his 50-over debut against Ireland with two wickets in the Twenty20 win over Pakistan in Cardiff on Sunday, his variation ranging from fierce 90mph-plus deliveries to mystifying off-cutters.
His late attempt to make England’s World Cup squad will continue this week, with the five-match ODI series against Pakistan starting at the Kia Oval on Wednesday.
But Root has hinted there could be an even bigger prize waiting for Archer against Australia at the end of the summer, even though the 24-year-old only made his Sussex debut in 2016 and has played just 28 first-class matches.
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“I’m looking at everyone with an eye towards the Ashes,” Root said in response to Archer’s Test claims.
“Anyone that’s in the shake up for it, naturally you will.
“Sub-consciously you are always looking at county cricket, around the squad, who’s in good form and who’s playing well. Who could potentially be a good option for the Ashes squad in future.
“You can see the value of what he could bring to a side, that extra bit of zip, and he makes things happen.
“He’s someone that wants to get into the game and try and make things happen and that’s a great quality to have on this stage.
“It will be interesting to see how he goes in the next few games.”
The wait for Archer to qualify as an England cricketer has produced a seemingly endless bout of debates around his selection.
Archer’s work on the T20 franchise circuit has seen him touted as a box-office cricketer, and that has been underlined over the last few days in an England shirt.
Asked if Archer offers something different, Root replied: “He does. We’ll see how that materialises over the coming months.
“It’s exciting to see another option to add to what is a growing bowling group, with the experience that we have in the two senior guys (James Anderson and Stuart Broad) and guys like Woody (Mark Wood) putting in a performance like he did in that last Test match.
“It’s great to see us producing more and more players, and giving us more different options than we’ve probably had in the last couple of years.”
Root has yet to face Archer in the nets – “that could be interesting”, he said with a smile – but he feels his form and England are both in a good place with the World Cup on the horizon.