sport news How England's Jofra Archer went from playing village cricket four years ago to ...

Jofra Archer celebrates dismissing Soumya Sarkar of Bangladesh during the group stage

Jofra Archer celebrates dismissing Soumya Sarkar of Bangladesh during the group stage

On a July day in rural Sussex four years ago, the skipper of a village cricket team tossed the ball to their opening bowler more in hope than expectation.

For the 20-year-old was recovering from a bad back and the team's opponents had a strong batting reputation.

But what happened next had the handful of spectators marvelling.

In five overs of fast bowling, the young man dismissed the first five batsmen for just eight runs, shattering the stumps of three of them.

'That was the moment we knew we were looking at a very special talent,' says Matt Warren, chairman of Middleton Cricket Club.

Tomorrow, that 'special talent' is England's big hope in the World Cup Final.

For on Thursday — exactly four years to the day since that match in the amateur Sussex cricket league — Jofra Archer, now 24, opened the bowling for England against Australia and destroyed the opposition.

Doubtless many of the estimated one billion global TV audience will want to see if the man billed as the sport's next superstar lives up to the hype.

Not only has Archer taken more wickets than any other England bowler at a World Cup, passing Sir Ian Botham, he has also notched up some of the fastest deliveries, including a helmet-rattling 95mph — from what has been described as a 'nonchalant run-up'.

How to watch:

See the game live at 10.30am tomorrow on Sky Sports and Channel 4.

But had things turned out differently, Archer might have been England's nemesis rather than our hero.

Born and raised in Barbados, he started as a slow spin bowler, only turning to pace at the age of 15.

Archer progressed into the West Indies under-19 team but became disillusioned with the West Indies cricket board in 2014 after not being selected for their under-19 World Cup squad. 

'Once I knew it was an option, it was an easy decision to move to England,' he later said.

His English father, Frank, reportedly worked for many years as a London Underground driver and now lives in Liverpool. Archer has only ever held a British passport.

How to sound like an expert:

What a yorker!

When a bowler directs a full-length delivery at the batsman's toes, making it hard to hit.

He's out for a duck 

A batsman's out without scoring a run.

That's a great maiden!

No run was scored in the over

He definitely edged that!

When a batsman mishits his shot and the ball comes off the edge of the bat.  

He was invited to try out for Sussex who found him a place as an overseas player with south coast team from Middleton-on-Sea.

Evidence of his love of the game was seen in 2014 while on a tour to the West Country to play friendly games with the cricketing equivalent of a 'pub' team.

Called Two Hopes Cricket Club, Archer and Akeem Jordan, another Bajan cricketer playing for a club side in West Sussex, had been invited to bolster numbers on the trip to Cornwall. 

Staying in a rented house, Archer impressed his fellow players by pitching in with the cooking and washing up.

Ever since, his stock has only risen, his fast bowling since making him one of the most prized commodities on the international T20 circuit, in which each side bats for just 20 overs.

It has been reported that in the autumn he will be offered a central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board worth in the region of £1 million a year.

Money from playing in the Indian Premier League and endorsements could see him easily double that sum.

Not bad for someone who, just four years ago, was a virtual unknown.

From royal hat-tricks to a flaming batsman, a very colourful history

Think cricket's a bit of a stuffy sport? You couldn't be more wrong, says MARCUS BERKMANN...

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle playing cricket

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle playing cricket

The greatest of all royal cricketing achievements must be that of George VI who took a hat-trick (three wickets in three consecutive balls). All his victims were present or future kings. It happened on the private ground at Windsor Castle. First up was Edward VII, his grandfather: bowled. Second: his father, George V: bowled. Third: his brother David, later Edward VIII: also bowled. The only cricketer ever to catch fire while playing at Lord's was Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, playing for the MCC against Kent in 1903. 'The first delivery I hardly saw, and it landed with a terrific thud upon my thigh,' he wrote in Memories And Adventures. 'A little occasional pain is one of the chances of cricket, and one takes it as cheerfully as one can, but on this occasion it suddenly became sharp to an unbearable degree. I clapped my hand to the spot, and found I was on fire. The ball had landed straight on a small tin Vesta box in my trousers pocket, had splintered the box, and set the matches ablaze.' Wartime RAF pilot Bill Edrich refused to give up county cricket even while pounding the Germans from the skies. He claimed that in one particularly eventful 48 hours, he flew two bombing missions, scored a century for Norfolk and bedded a local girl. Playwright Sir Harold Pinter said: 'I tend to believe that cricket is the greatest thing God ever created on earth . . . certainly greater than sex, although sex isn't too bad either.' Renowned commentator John Arlott began his career as a Hampshire policeman but quit when he landed the job of overseas literary producer at the BBC . . . a post previously held by George Orwell. Cricketers like to squeeze puns into the titles of their memoirs. Mike Atherton called his Opening Up; Richie Benaud's was My Spin On Cricket; Geoffrey Boycott's: Put To The Test; Basil D'Oliveira's: Time To Declare; Alan Knott: It's Knott Cricket and Michael Holding: No Holding Back. Hitler regarded cricket as 'insufficiently violent' for Nazis. He was taught to play by British PoWs during World War I, but particularly disliked wearing leg pads — 'unmanly and unGerman'.


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