Morgan lauds 'huge asset' Archer following questions over Test commitment

By Sports Desk March 11, 2021

Eoin Morgan says Jofra Archer is a "huge asset" to England after the paceman hit out at suggestions he is not committed to playing Test cricket.

Archer is expected to be in the England side when they start a five-match Twenty20 International series against India at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, having missed the final Test at the same Ahmedabad venue due to an elbow injury.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan questioned Archer's desire for featuring in the longest format, comments which clearly irked the paceman.

Archer wrote in his Daily Mail column: "A lot of people are saying a lot of things about my right elbow, and so as the person the elbow belongs to, I would like to say something in response.

"Let me be clear about something: I've never changed my attitude towards playing for England. I've always wanted to play all three formats. That hasn't changed, and never will as far as I'm concerned.

"I always dreamed of playing Test cricket and don't feel I've had a bad game so far – yet unless I am taking four or five wickets in an innings, I am placed under scrutiny and some people start trying to decipher what's going on.

"Comments like 'he's not committed' or 'he's not good enough' appear as soon as you are not 110 per cent. I find it quite annoying how people read into stuff and form their own opinions.

"I saw one article from Michael Vaughan in which he said: 'If Jofra doesn't love Test cricket, England need to find out why.' We've never had a conversation about cricket, so I found it a bit odd. He doesn't know what makes me tick. He doesn't know what's driving me."

And white-ball captain Morgan said he has had no problems with World Cup winner Archer. In fact quite the opposite.

"He's a huge asset," said England's skipper. "He's a guy that bowls in three parts of the game and can be threatening whenever he comes on. He obviously has express pace, can bowl cutters, variations, and has a very good yorker. He's a huge asset in any format."

Asked if he finds Archer easy to captain, Morgan replied: "I do. He's always been engaging. He is a younger member of our squad that has different interests to the majority of our squad, because the majority of our squad is in their late 20s, early 30s.

"He loves enjoying what he does, in travelling, playing Xbox, playing cricket, playing in front of big, big crowds and he is a huge family man.

"The more I have got to know him: one, the better our relationship is but two, the more I have grown to enjoy his company away from the game because I have got to know him more. He's a funny guy."

Related items

  • Wales v England: Three Lions always look to play positively – Rashford Wales v England: Three Lions always look to play positively – Rashford

    Marcus Rashford shrugged off the suggestion England are too conservative under Gareth Southgate as he insisted they have a killer instinct.

    England drew 0-0 with the United States on Friday, in a World Cup match that saw both teams only accumulate a combined 1.4 expected goals (xG).

    The draw leaves England – 6-2 victors over Iran in their opening match – on four points at the top of Group B, meaning they only need to avoid defeat against neighbours Wales on Tuesday to guarantee qualification.

    A win would confirm their place as group winners, but manager Southgate has been criticised in some quarters for his pragmatic approach.

    Yet with England having reached a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and a final at the delayed Euro 2020 last year, Rashford does not believe the critics' point stands up to scrutiny.

    "We've shown progression, I can only speak on the time that I’ve been here, from 2016," Rashford said in a press conference.

    "You look at the performance against Iceland when we got knocked out of the Euros, it's a million miles off where we are now, you can’t even compare them.

    "We have great players, playing top football against the best opposition week in and week out, so we can't go into games and think negatively. It's not something the players do or the manager does. He always wants us to show people what we can do.

    "We play positive football, it showed against Iran, scoring six goals. They're a top-20 team in the world. We've seen the smaller nations get massive upsets in the tournament.

    "So scoring those goals, it's a big sign of what we're about. If we can kill a team off, we'd want to do that."

    The onus will not be wholly on England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, with Wales needing a win to keep their qualification hopes alive.

    After drawing their first game against the United States, Wales lost 2-0 to Iran last time out, meaning they must topple England to stand a chance of progressing from the group, and even a win might not be enough.

    "Of course we can [beat England], we have shown time and time again when you write us off we will prove people wrong," said Wales defender Chris Mepham.

    "The picture is clear now: we have to beat England and be prepping for that. Hopefully we can be in a position where we give a good account of ourselves and see where it takes us."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Wales – Danny Ward

    With first-choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey seeing red against Iran, it means Danny Ward will likely be coming into the starting XI.

    Ward had a poor start to the season with Leicester City, though he gradually improved. That being said, he picked the ball out of his net twice in the short time he was on the pitch against Iran.

    If Wales are to get the result they need, they will need their goalkeeper to be at his very best.

    England – Phil Foden

    Much has been made of Southgate's decision to leave Manchester City attacker Phil Foden on the bench against the USA.

    While Foden is not guaranteed to play, Southgate might be wise to hand the youngster a start to exploit the space that might be left given Wales are going to have to go for the win.

    PREDICTION

    This is England's first World Cup match against a fellow British side. The Three Lions are unbeaten in all three games against other British teams at the Euros (W1 D1 vs Scotland, W1 vs Wales), and Opta's model has them as the favourites for this one.

    England are given a 66 per cent chance of victory, while Wales are rated as having a 13.1 per cent hope. The draw is at 20.9 per cent.

  • Southgate non-committal on Kane role against Wales following foot injury Southgate non-committal on Kane role against Wales following foot injury

    Harry Kane is fit to face Wales, but Gareth Southgate stopped short of confirming the England captain would start.

    Kane sustained a foot injury in England's World Cup opener against Iran, only to recover in time to lead the Three Lions out again against the United States.

    The Tottenham forward struggled to impact that goalless draw, however, and there have been calls for him to be dropped for the final group game against Wales.

    England are not yet through but would have to lose by four goals at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday to fall short of the knockout stage.

    Discussing his team selection, Southgate outlined the need to "balance freshness with stability".

    Ahead of playing the United States, the England manager said it would be a "brave decision" not to start Kane, but he spoke with far less certainty when that quote was repeated back to him on the eve of the Wales match.

    In response to that question on Kane, Southgate said: "We're going to pick a team that we believe can win the game. That's our priority always.

    "[Kane] is fine in terms of the knock he's had. We keep saying it's his foot and [everyone else] keeps saying it's his ankle. It's his foot.

    "He's trained well. In the whole group, it's only Ben White missing with illness.

    "We've got pretty much everyone to select from, which is a great position to be in. It makes decisions difficult, of course, but you want a fully fit squad. That's where we're at."

    Even if Southgate does alter his line-up, there is unlikely to be a repeat of the eight changes made between the second and third games in Russia four years ago, when England were already through.

    "It's always a challenge, and of course we've got 26 players," the England boss said. "But we're at a major tournament, and it's not about giving caps out. We're here to try to go as far as we possibly can."

    Southgate added Wales "seem to have additional motivation to play against England", describing it as "a great sporting rivalry, no more than that – [although] the feeling may not be mutual".

    He has no issue with Wales' determination to beat their rivals, though, with Kieffer Moore having said at the start of the tournament he "cannot wait" to knock England out.

    "He's entitled to say whatever he wants leading into a game," replied Southgate. "I'd be amazed if he didn't feel that way.

    "We've got to just focus on what we're about, preparing for the game in our normal way. We've got to bring our quality to the game and composure and play with the tempo that makes our team really difficult to play against.

    "It's pointless us focusing on what's said before the game. We've got to go on the pitch and play well."

  • Bale feels no added responsibility as Wales prepare to face 'beatable' England Bale feels no added responsibility as Wales prepare to face 'beatable' England

    Gareth Bale does not believe he has any added responsibility on his shoulders ahead of Wales' showdown with England, who Rob Page has described as a "beatable" opponent.

    Wales face an early exit from their first World Cup since 1958 as they require victory against England and for the United States and Iran to draw in Tuesday's other Group B match.

    The Dragons, who followed up a 1-1 draw against the USA with a 2-0 loss to Iran, will also advance to the knockout stage with an improbable 4-0 victory over their fierce rivals.

    Bale played a major role in Wales ending their long wait to play on the world stage, as he did in their successful campaigns in qualifying for Euro 2016 and Euro 2020.

    Ahead of what could be his final appearance for Wales at a tournament, though, the Los Angeles FC forward is hoping to respond to the Iran loss with a result against England.

    "We're disappointed in the results and performance so far but that's football," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "This is a World Cup and it's not easy. 

    "We'll always give 100 per cent and we want to try to make things better. The last few days we've been working hard and hopefully things turn around for us now.

    "We were hurting after the Iran game and the next day. Everyone was really quiet but we have characters in the squad and the energy is high again.

    "We're in good spirits for this next match. This is tournament football and we have to go again."

     

    Bale scored his side's only goal of Qatar 2022 so far, a late penalty against the USA, but he has had the fewest touches of the ball of any Wales player in both matches.

    The 33-year-old has managed only two shots, one of those being his spot-kick effort, but he insists his nation's hopes against England do not rest solely on him.

    "I don't feel an added responsibility. We're a team and nation who work hard for each other and we must deliver as a team, not one person," he said. 

    "We've been working hard these last couple days. We would have loved to have been winning but the reality is football is hard, but we've been keeping our spirits high."

    Wales have never previously failed to win a single match at any of their major tournament participations, but they have a poor record against neighbours England down the years.

    Indeed, Wales have lost each of their past six games against England, conceding 11 goals and scoring just once – a Bale free-kick in a 2-1 defeat in the Euro 2016 group stage.

    However, in a game Wales simply must win if they are to have any hope of prolonging their stay in Qatar, manager Page is optimistic his side can end that terrible run.

    "This tournament has shown anyone's beatable – of course England are beatable," Page said. "They’ve got a wonderful pool of players, but we must show what we're capable of."

    Echoing the views of his manager, Bale said: "Absolutely. We've done our homework and had meetings, which I'm sure they've also done. It's going to be a difficult game.

    "We know England are one of the favourites and we're under no illusions. There's been a few shocks already and there's no reason we can't do the same."

    Wales enter Tuesday's game winless in seven matches, which is their worst run without victory since between May 2003 and November 2003.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.