Nasser Hussain has described England’s 15-man squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup as “the best they have ever picked”, adding that Jofra Archer’s inclusion was “100 per cent the right call”.
Archer was not included in England’s provisional squad named last month, but has replaced David Willey in the final 15 named on Tuesday. Liam Dawson also comes in for Joe Denly, and James Vince is added following the axing of Alex Hales.
- Archer replaces Willey in WC squad
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England’s World Cup campaign gets underway against South Africa at The Oval on Thursday, May 30.
“The first thing to say is that’s the best squad England have ever picked for a World Cup,” Hussain told Sky Sports News. “It is a phenomenal lineup of cricketers, especially in the batting department.
England’s ICC Cricket World Cup Squad
Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (Wkt), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
“They’ve made the right call in having Archer in that squad. Absolutely; 100 per cent.
“He had to play. He is such a rare talent, a game-changer, a wicket-taker.
“For me, I would’ve liked to have that left-arm option of Willey. With 10.30am starts in this World Cup, if you get a grey day, with it swinging around, he is the only one in world cricket really that swings that new ball.
“But you’ve got to leave someone out, and every single one of them gives you something. Mark Wood gives you extra pace, Liam Plunkett gives you wickets in the middle overs, Tom Curran has a lot of character and fight about him.
“It was a difficult decision. We had four pundits looking at this in the last game and we left three different people out.
“No-one really knows. But, in the end, they’ve probably gone the right way.
“One thing is for certain, I don’t think England will lose the World Cup because they went for Archer over Willey. It’s now how they play that’s going to be important.”
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Hussain added that Willey can feel particularly hard done by for his late omission from the squad after being a regular feature in the side over the last four years
“The phone call [national selector] Ed Smith would have had to make – he wouldn’t have put it like this – but Willey would have heard, ‘you have been replaced by someone who has bowled 22 overs for England’.
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“‘We are going with a gut feel on Archer. You have done nothing wrong, but you’re going to miss out on a home World Cup.
“When England had that abysmal World Cup last time around, [then director of England Cricket] Andrew Strauss invited me to sit on a white-ball committee.
“How are we going to change our white-ball form? The three things they earmarked were that you need extra pace – which England were lacking – you need a mystery wrist spinner – which England were lacking – and you need a left-armer.
“They’ve brought in pace in Wood and Archer, they’ve now got the wrist spinner in Adil Rashid, and they’ve gone three years with the left-armer in Willey, and then at the last second they’ve gone for extra pace in Archer.
“Probably what decided it for Smith is when they looked at the preferred first lineup against South Africa, Willey might not have been taking the new ball, so then what is he doing in the side?
“If I was a journalist, right now I would be knocking on Willey’s door, because I reckon he’d be wanting to say things that aren’t quite what should be said. He will be absolutely ticking.”
Denly has also been dropped from the squad on the eve of the tournament for Hampshire left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, but Hussain believes that could help the Kent batsman with regards to his Ashes ambitions later this summer.
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“I think it’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise for Joe,” added Hussain. “There is an Ashes coming up and, if he had been in the squad and not played – carrying the drinks and not getting into any nick in red-ball cricket – he might have missed out on an Ashes.
“Dawson, after Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, is England’s next white-ball best spinner. Denly should never have been competing for that spot. He should have been competing with Vince for the next batting option. He is a batsman who bowls a bit of legspin.
“Say you get to a semi-final on a tired, spinning pitch, and Moeen has a stomach upset or something and can’t play: you want your next best spinner available.
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