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Stokes backs 'naturally gifted' Archer to make England World Cup squad

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By Reuters
Stokes backs 'naturally gifted' Archer to make England World Cup squad
FILE PHOTO: Cricket - West Indies v England - Third Test - Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, St Lucia - February 12, 2019 England's Ben Stokes in action Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs   -   Copyright  PAUL CHILDS(Reuters)

(Reuters) – England’s Ben Stokes believes fellow all-rounder Jofra Archer has a strong chance of being included in their World Cup squad, saying the “naturally gifted” player could improve any team in world cricket.

Barbados-born Archer, who shone for Sussex last season and in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 league for Hobart Hurricanes, is eligible for national selection under new England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) residency rules.

The uncapped 24-year-old has played 28 first-class games and has a number of high-profile admirers, including former players Nasser Hussain and Devon Malcolm.

“Jofra makes any team better,” Stokes told The Doosra podcast on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“He is the most naturally gifted bowler I’ve seen and I don’t think he quite realises how good he is. Some of the things he can do at the click of a finger are just ‘wow’. It’s pretty special to watch.

“To have someone at the pace he bowls and the skills he has… the selectors are going to be scratching their heads… it’s a great position to be in as an England team when you’ve got a player with the skill level Jofra’s got.”

Archer and Stokes are team mates at Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

In February, England coach Trevor Bayliss said a decision over Archer was the “final piece of the jigsaw” in their World Cup plans.

Hosts England, who are set to name their provisional squad next week, begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)