Archer and Dawson earn World Cup spots as Denly and Willey miss out

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With Jofra Archer’s inclusion in England’s World Cup squad long considered a formality, it was spinner Liam Dawson who assumed the role of ‘bolter’ as Joe Denly and David Willey saw their tournament dreams dashed.

National selector Ed Smith named England’s final 15 at Lord’s on Tuesday, with three changes from the preliminary group submitted last month.

Off-field transgressions forced Alex Hales’ removal and James Vince’s promotion, Archer’s impressive early outings on the international stage saw him leapfrog Willey, while Dawson was brought in from the cold in place of all-rounder Denly.

— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) May 21, 2019

The 33-year-old Denly had been included initially as a utility option, capable of stepping into any of the batting slots and as well offering a back-up leg-spin option. Recent evidence suggests he is not quite up to international standard as a bowler, though, and was used sparingly by captain Eoin Morgan during the recent Pakistan series.

Dawson has not featured since October, when he left the Sri Lanka tour with a side strain, but has impressed during Hampshire’s run to the Royal London One-Day Cup final and is considered a safer bet with the ball.

The balance was potentially tipped by Adil Rashid’s fitness, with Smith revealing the side’s premier spinner has a minor injury, placing a greater emphasis on having a reliable stand-in at hand.

“It was a very difficult situation we were in as a panel. We had more players than we were allowed.”

Liam Dawson has been named in England's World Cup squad
Liam Dawson has been named in England’s World Cup squad (Nick Potts/PA)

“He’ll be fine, we hope he’ll play a full and complete part in the tournament, but it’s a factor in the Liam Dawson decision.

“You could say actually the strategic priority here is if one of those two main spinners is injured or if there’s a problem, we’ve got someone whose primary focus in his professional career has been his bowling. And that’s the route we’ve gone down with Liam Dawson.”

While Denly will be sorely frustrated, he is a relative newcomer to the squad himself, unlike Willey.

The left-armer has played in 46 of England’s 88 one-day internationals since the last tournament, and carried drinks at plenty more, but was deemed most dispensable once Archer’s talents became apparent.

“What can I say, I’m absolutely gutted. Still 100% behind the lads. On a positive…..still winning at life!!” the Yorkshire all-rounder tweeted a couple of hours after the announcement.

Smith, having been the bearer of both bad and good news, paid tribute to Willey’s stoic reaction after being culled.

“He’s very honest, dignified. He’s a very impressive man and cricketer. The new-ball area is strong and David Willey was unfortunate. He could easily have been in the World Cup squad, he deserved to be in.

“It was a very difficult situation we were in as a panel. We had more players than we were allowed.”

Archer, Barbados-born to an English father, only qualified under revised residency rules in March and looks set to be a major factor in the competition.

The highly-rated Jofra Archer is expected to play a major role for England at the World Cup
The highly-rated Jofra Archer is expected to play a major role for England at the World Cup (John Walton/PA)

“I got a call from Ed yesterday about 6pm. I was driving at the time,” he said.

“I felt the phone vibrate, I answered without looking at it. It is really exciting to be part of a big summer for English cricket.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket, I know how to deal with pressure, crowds, I think I’m ready.”

Any suggestions that Archer’s late arrival on the scene would disrupt the harmony of a winning team dissipated almost immediately and the Sussex bowler already feels at home in the set-up.

“Everyone welcomed me with open arms from the moment I got in,” he said.

“It’s a really good team to be part of, great team, captain, support staff, one of the better teams I’ve played in.”

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