The story of how quickly Jofra Archer has gone from playing in the Sussex League to bowling England to their first one-day World Cup is nothing short of remarkable. If it were a film script, you'd say it was too far-fetched.
The Barbados-born fast bowler took 1-42 off his 10 overs as England restricted New Zealand to 241/8 in the final at Lord's yesterday. However, England’s reply went awry before brilliance from Ben Stokes took the game to a super over.
England scored 15 in their six balls before Archer - only a few weeks after first playing for England - was given the ball for New Zealand's reply. He started poorly, and a huge six by James Neesham meant the game was back with New Zealand.
However, the Sussex bowler showed just how good he is, not to mention cool under pressure, as he tightened up his bowling to concede only four off his last three balls - and, with the help of superb fielding from his team-mates, win the World Cup for England.
Ace Archer is key man for England
My first experience of Archer was watching a highlights package of the Royal London One Day Cup of a game between Sussex and Somerset in 2016.
Without a number on his shirt he bowled with raw pace, yet he was very controlled. Alongside that he also smacked the ball a mile when batting. By then he was known in Sussex League circles, having impressed for Horsham and Middleton.
At the time I thought he could be a huge talent for the future. A year later, after impressing for Sussex, he appeared on the radar again but this time in Australia, playing for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash T20 League.
Because of his unknown reputation, his arrival wasn’t greeted with the greatest response by Hobart fans with comments on their Facebook announcement of his arrival saying the franchise had lost the plot with his signing. That season he went on to take 16 wickets at an average of 23.06 as the Hurricanes reached the final but were defeated by the Adelaide Strikers.
He also became a fan favourite with the Hobart faithful, as he told a reporter for the Hobart Hurricanes website: “It means a lot. It’s a bit different from England – they support you on the field, but you don’t get recognised much off the field,” said Archer. “Where as here whenever you go down the street, everyone is saying ‘well bowled’ or ‘nice catch’, which is heart-warming really."
After his successful season with the Hurricanes, he ended up signing a new two-year contract with the franchise, taking 18 wickets in BBL08 the following season.
He went on to ply his talents in other T20 leagues around the world playing alongside future England team0mates Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes in the Indian Premier League for Rajasthan Royals as well as playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.
He soon brought his superb form overseas back to Sussex, impressing again in the Vitality T20 Blast taking 22 wickets as Sussex reached the final - but again Archer suffered another agonising defeat as Sussex were beaten by Worcestershire by five wickets.
He was kept by Rajasthan Royals for the following IPL and it was to be this year that Archer got his breakthrough, called up to Eoin Morgan’s one-day squad for games versus Ireland and Pakistan following rule changes about how long a player must live in England for before they can play for the national side.
Despite doing well, he did not make the preliminary World Cup squad but he was added on May 21. This proved to be a superb decision as Archer made his mark and finished as the third top wicket-taker in the tournament with 20 wickets.
But it's the Super Over that won England the World Cup that he will be remembered for - a key role in the most memorable of days for English cricket.
There is plenty to come for England’s latest star - with an Ashes call-up surely awaiting him. But for now, he can enjoy the feeling of being an England hero.