Jofra Archer's England World Cup chances played down - but not ruled out

Jofra Archer reacts in the field BCCI

When the ECB announced a change in England's eligibility criteria a few weeks ago, it was assumed by some it had been done so to accommodate Jofra Archer.

It's an understandable theory, too. Archer is one of the most exciting talents in the game and, having impressed in the BBL and IPL, would appear to have the skills - not least the ability to bowl quickly - to strengthen England's World Cup squad.

But, on the strength of Ed Smith's comments as he named England Test and ODI touring squads for the Caribbean, Archer is not the allrounder making a late charge for inclusion. Instead, on current evidence, it seems Joe Denly make be the more likely to make a late run for a place.

Denly is, after all, included in England's ODI squad for the tour and was named by Smith as "well placed" for inclusion in the three T20 games that follow. He was Player of the Match in his most recent international appearance, a T20 in Colombo, and seems to have pushed ahead of Liam Dawson, for whom he was an injury replacement in the ODI squad in Sri Lanka, in the pecking order.

Archer's main issue is simply that he doesn't become available until the last minute. Barbados-born but with a UK passport (courtesy of his British father), Archer is currently expected to become eligible for selection somewhere around March 22. By then, England will have completed their Caribbean tour (the final ODI is March 2, the final T20 March 10) and will have no more cricket before they are obliged to name their provisional World Cup squad on April 23.

That would mean Archer would have to be selected before he had gained an international cap. And while he would have some time to gain experience - and, just as importantly, for England to gain experience of him - in a five-match ODI series against Pakistan in May before the final squad has to be submitted, Eoin Morgan has previously suggested it would probably be too late to consider him for World Cup selection unless injury intervened.

A squad that has built for the tournament for years may well be reluctant to make the mistake of several previous England World Cup campaigns in abandoning their plans at the last moment; even for a player as talented as Archer.

There is, perhaps, a caveat to all this. Archer could, in theory, pull out of all or part of his BBL deal with Hobart Hurricanes, which might allow him to spend more time in the UK and therefore accelerate his residency by a few weeks. It may yet prove relevant that England have yet to name their T20 squad for the Caribbean in March.

While Smith didn't rule out the possibility of picking Archer in England's World Cup squad, he said he had not spoken to him or given any thought to asking him to pull out of his Big Bash contract.

"As a selector, what I try to do is try and keep things as simple as I can," Smith said. "Who is available and, of those available players, which is the strongest squad to give the captain and coach every opportunity to pick the team to win the game. As it stands now, Archer was not available for those tours so was not considered for selection.

"I wouldn't answer any hypothetical question about who we would or would not consider based on facts we don't have. I've not spoken to Jofra.

"I wouldn't rule anything out. I don't really believe in ruling things out. If there are other players who become available and we think they're worthy of consideration then we'll consider them."

By contrast, Smith spoke in glowing terms of Denly, who retained his place in both the Test and ODI squads for the Caribbean despite not playing a game in either format in Sri Lanka.

"Joe has played one game that registers on his historical record since his return to international cricket and in that one game he was man of the match," Smith said. "That's what he's done since his return.

"He's probably doing all the right things. He has had an outstanding spell in his career and matured a little bit later than some cricketers. He played in the last T20 and was man of the match having not played in the one-day side, even though he was part of the squad. You'd have thought he was well placed to be part of that series of T20 games in the Caribbean."