England’s World Cup-winning former captain Eoin Morgan believes it would be “naive” to call on Jofra Archer in this year’s tournament.
Archer played a key role in securing the trophy for Morgan’s men four years ago, topping the wicket charts and delivering the nail-biting super over in the Lord’s final.
But the Barbados-born seamer has played just seven ODIs since that day, with a litany of fitness problems making him a regular in the treatment room while he has not featured competitively since the IPL in May.
He is scheduled to join up with England shortly as a reserve player – partially to oversee his continued rehabilitation from a stress fracture of the elbow and partially as a potential injury replacement if required.
Should one of England’s chosen seamers go down during the lengthy trip around India, there is hope that Archer could step into the breach and play a part in the business end of the competition, but Morgan has urged caution over that idea.
“It’s not something that I’m thinking would be a good idea,” said Morgan, who is in India as an ICC World Cup ambassador.
“Right here and now I don’t know because he’s not played and we don’t know what he’s capable of. Given the injury issue that he’s had in recent times I think it would be naive of anybody to think just chuck him in whenever you can because we’re either desperate or feel that you need an option.
“Obviously the feedback about when he’s trained with the team has been that he’s back bowling beautifully, but you would like to see that in a game, you would like to see that in a continuous performance.”
Morgan’s successor as skipper, Jos Buttler, offered no new clues about Archer’s status but confirmed he would be in the country shortly and linking back up with his team-mates.
“He’s coming out soon. The plan is obviously to finish off the rehab stages of coming back from his injury,” he said.
“He’s continuing to build up and rehab and that’s a great place for him to be able to do that in and around the squad. Obviously if he builds up and everything then should the worst case happen (to another bowler) it’s a conversation.”
Morgan, meanwhile, gave a wholehearted endorsement of Ben Stokes’ importance to England’s title defence. Like Archer, he was essential in 2019, when his never-say-die attitude carried the eventual champions back from the brink in the final.
Having reversed his ODI retirement to take part he has been laid low by a hip problem since arriving.
But Morgan believes his presence carries even more weight than it did previously, given the achievements he has racked up along the way as a T20 world champion and inspirational Test captain.
“Is he as influential as he was? Even more so I’d say,” said the Irishman.
“He just continues to deliver when the team needs and creates belief and confidence around that and if you play with a guy that has already crossed the finish line on numerous occasions, and speaks in straight lines and not riddles, it’s genuine.
“I think the thing that we can’t measure when it comes to Ben is how much he contributes in the changing room and how much he makes other players better around him.”