WORLD CUP: Archer named in England’s 15

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Liam Dawson has been called into England’s World Cup squad at the expense of Joe Denly, while David Willey is the unlucky seamer to make way for the inclusion of Jofra Archer, as England’s selectors unveiled their final 15-man line-up ahead of the tournament’s opening fixture, against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.

James Vince has also been named in the 15 as a straight swap for Alex Hales, who was deselected earlier this month after failing two tests for recreational drugs, making a total of three changes from the provisional 15 that was named ahead of ODIs against Ireland and Pakistan this month.

“It was a very difficult decision,” said Ed Smith, the national selector, at the squad announcement at Lord’s. “David Willey was very unfortunate in missing out, he could easily have been in this World Cup squad, but that’s sport. Sometimes there are more deserving people than there are places in the squad.”

Dawson’s inclusion completes a remarkable return to prominence for a player who has not been in the England frame since the ODI tour of Sri Lanka prior to Christmas. A side strain suffered on that trip opened the door for Denly, who marked his first England appearance for almost ten years with a four-wicket haul in a one-off T20I in Colombo.

However, having been earmarked as England’s spin-bowling reserve all-rounder for the World Cup, Denly failed to cement his place during the Ireland and Pakistan series. He bowled just 11 overs in three matches – in which his solitary wicket came from a leg-side stumping – while his innings of 17 from 21 balls in England’s three-wicket win at Trent Bridge last week was not enough to convince the selectors that he has the batting prowess to be worth a place.

Smith added that Denly’s focus would now be on playing four-day cricket for Kent, with a view to cementing his Test place ahead of this summer’s Ashes.

“He’s very clear in his situation, there were two things that could have happened,” said Smith. “One, he would have been the World Cup squad. The other one is he goes back to Kent, has a good block of four-day matches before the challenges in the second half of the summer. So he was very clear that both avenues were possible to him.”

Dawson, meanwhile, has been in impressive form for Hampshire in this season’s Royal London Cup. He has claimed 18 wickets at 20.33 en route to the final against Somerset at Lord’s this week, and he has also made 274 runs at 45.66, including a century against Surrey at The Oval. He is understood to have been withdrawn from Hampshire’s ongoing County Championship fixture against Nottinghamshire on the Isle of Wight, with Mason Crane deputising for him.

Archer, meanwhile, has completed a stunning rise through England’s ranks, having only received the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup when the ECB changed its residency rules from seven years to three late last year.

Having made his name on the T20 franchise circuit, Archer showcased his value to England as a 90mph new-ball bowler in a sharp four-over spell in the rain-ruined first ODI against Pakistan at The Oval, then combined well with Mark Wood on a batsman-friendly surface at Trent Bridge the following week.

“We’ve seen Jofra Archer playing for England over the last few weeks, and we’ve seen the skills and the quality he has,” said Smith. “It’s pretty straightforward isn’t it? He’s a very good cricketer, very talented, a very exciting player. He has pace, bounce, athleticism, skill with the bat, he’s an outstanding talent, that was clear to all of us. He’s made a very good start to his England career and long may that continue.”

His inclusion is cruel luck on Willey, who had been outspoken about the threat posed to his place when Archer first became eligible earlier this year. Nevertheless, he seemed to have risen to the challenge posed to his place in the squad with an impressive showing in the second ODI at the Ageas Bowl, where he showcased his death-bowling credentials to close out a tight 12-run win. (ESPNCricinfo)

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