Bristol – England paceman Chris Woakes accepts his World Cup selection is far from guaranteed following Jofra Archer’s arrival on the international stage.
Barbados-born Archer’s priceless ability to bowl at up to 90 mph could now see him force his way into World Cup hosts and favourites England’s final 15-man squad for the tournament just weeks after he made his debut for the national side.
And that could well mean one of the seamers who have helped England make the long climb to number one in the one-day international rankings after the team’s woeful exit at the 2015 World Cup could miss out.
Archer has been rested from England’s last two ODIs, which they’ve won to go 2-0 up in a five-match ‘World Cup audition’ home series with Pakistan.
Woakes did his own prospects no harm with a fine return of four wickets for 67 runs in a maximum 10-over spell during a six-wicket win in Tuesday’s third ODI in Bristol.
Yet even the Warwickshire all-rounder’s 11th four-wicket ODI haul failed to persuade Woakes he had secured his place in the World Cup squad.
“Safe is probably not the word,” he said. “But you always feel like you need to put in performances, and I’m pleased I managed to do so.
“You hope you are safe, but I suppose until that squad’s selected you’re not. Hopefully I am, but we will see.”
– ‘Competition’ –
Woakes, however, said Archer’s emergence could only strengthen England, who face Pakistan in two more ODIs — in Nottingham on Friday and Leeds on Sunday — before the selectors name their final 15 for the World Cup.
“The batters have obviously set the benchmark (for competition) over the last few years,” said Woakes, seemingly over the worst of a knee injury.
“There’s always been competition for places there, more so maybe than the bowling.
“I suppose this (Archer’s arrival) has done the same for the bowlers, so I think it’s been a good thing. Someone, unfortunately, will miss out.”
Tuesday’s match was notable for how England eased to a seemingly challenging victory target of 359 with more than five overs to spare after an opening stand of 159 between Jonny Bairstow (128) and Jason Roy (76).
Fielding restrictions, lightning-fast outfields, short boundaries, flat pitches and ever more inventive strokeplay have all combined to make life increasingly difficult for bowlers in limited-overs cricket — especially now reverse swing appears harder to generate given there are separate balls in use at either end during an innings.
Three of the highest winning totals by a team batting second in ODIs — including England’s effort in Bristol — have all been achieved this year, with Woakes saying notions about what constituted economical bowling had changed considerably.
“It is hard work, there’s no doubt about that. Going for 30 runs in your 10, unless you get a surface where 250 is going to be a good score, those days are gone so your expectations need to change as a bowler.
“I think you have to try to be aggressive as a bowler or at least have a bit of an aggressive mindset to take wickets. When you get into that defensive mindset and you are just thinking purely about damage limitation that’s probably when you are at your most vulnerable.”
With Twenty20 competitions such as the Indian Premier League — a “graveyard for the bowlers” in Woakes’s words, the England mainstay said a run-filled World Cup would come as no surprise to all those taking part.
“I think they know that it’s going to be probably a high-scoring World Cup, particularly at certain grounds, but I don’t think it will be a shock to many people.”