England accused of poaching after rule change boosts Jofra Archer prospects

• In-demand fast bowler could now play in World Cup and Ashes
• ECB’s residency rules cut from seven years to three

England have been accused of poaching Caribbean talent by the chief executive of West Indies following a decision to cut residency requirements from seven years to three and thus make Jofra Archer eligible for next summer’s World Cup and Ashes series.

Archer, the highly rated Sussex fast bowler who was born in Barbados, is the obvious beneficiary of the rule changes announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board on Thursday, having previously been looking until the winter of 2022-23 before qualifying for England. This was because the 23-year‑old, despite holding a British passport through his English father, arrived in the UK in 2015, after his 18th birthday. Under the new rules, British citizens, or those born in the UK, require three years of residency to be selected, provided they have not played as a “local” in an overseas competition in this time.

The ECB has stressed the rule change is not about an individual player and it brings English cricket in line with rest of the world. But Johnny Grave, the chief executive of Cricket West Indies, has nevertheless expressed his dismay that Archer, who rose through the Barbados system and played international Under-19s cricket for West Indies, could soon be representing another country.

Grave told the Guardian: “We respect Jofra’s decision, the rules allow him to [switch country]. But on a personal level, and as an Englishman, I don’t like the concept of the ECB poaching players who have been part of another system up to the age of 19.

“I hope no other West Indian cricketers follow that path and hope it doesn’t lead to counties doing their talent ID in the Caribbean, taking our players into the public school system and then on to offering them lucrative long-term county contracts and then possibly on to playing for England.”

Archer’s decision to leave the Caribbean for Sussex, where he rose to prominence in club cricket before signing for the county, came after missing out on selection for the Under‑19s World Cup in 2014. Though he did not attend public school in the UK, the switch followed advice from Chris Jordan, who also grew up in Barbados and moved to England aged 15 via a scholarship at Dulwich College in south-east London.

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The ECB’s new residency rules require a player to be in the country for 210 days a year between April and March and with Archer committed to playing for Hobart Hurricanes in Australia’s Big Bash League this winter – with whom he shot to global prominence last year and then secured a lucrative deal in the Indian Premier League – he will not have completed his third year until mid-March.

It means the right-arm quick will likely miss out on the tour to the Caribbean that starts in January, with the one-day series being England’s final five matches in the format before they submit their provisional World Cup squad on 23 April. With their attack seemingly short of a bowler who can consistently hit 90mph, however, there is a chance Archer may still enter the selection debate.

As well as reducing their self-imposed seven-year residency criteria, the ECB board has also signed off on the playing regulations for its new 100-ball competition from 2020. As expected, the format will be 10 blocks of 10 balls for each innings, with bowlers allowed to bowl five or 10 of these at a time but no more than 20 in total.


Exclusive by Ali Martin

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