The biggest question doing the rounds of English cricket circles at the moment is: which seamer from the provisional 15-men squad for the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup would be dropped to make space for Jofra Archer?
The 22-year old fast bowler has been attracting attention due to his exploits in T20 leagues around the world and was selected for the ongoing series against Pakistan. With the last date for making changes to the original squad being May 23, the decision of the selectors to bring Archer into the team was seen as an act of giving the young fast bowler an audition for the mega event.
His performance in the first ODI of the 5-match series left everyone convinced that the bowler belongs to the big stage and should be brought into the side as quickly as possible. The likes of Michael Vaughan have been arguing in support of this view for a long time and now, it has been endorsed by even Andrew Flintoff.
While the first game of the series was washed out due to rain, there was enough time for Archer to make a big impact by bowling a highly impressive spell of pace bowling. This set the cat among the pigeons as the inclusion of the right-arm bowler in the World Cup-bound team will require dropping one of the bowlers already in it. Who will that bowler be?
The five seamers in the squad at the moment are: David Willey, Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood. For some time, Willey was being seen as the weakest link in the attack and most likely to fall prey to Archer's rise.
But on May 11, the left-armer proved his worth by being England' best
bowler on show in second ODI of the series. Not only did he manage to keep his economy rate below 6/over in a game where both teams scored more than 350, but also bowled crucial overs towards the end of the innings when the visitors seemed close to victory.
Morgan speaks out
So, who gets dropped now? Certainly not Willey. Well, Eoin Morgan, the skipper has a big say in the matter and after the second match against Pakistan, mentioned Willey along with Plunkett as two bowlers who have 'delivered' for the team in crucial situations.
"For the last four years, David Willey and Liam Plunkett in particular have reacted really well to being put under pressure. You ask them to do more and they respond really well. They probably don't get the praise that they should or that other guys get. But the more responsibility we've given them, they've reacted really well," the England skipper stated.
The fact that Morgan chose to name these two bowlers out of the five in the provisional squad can be seen as a vote of confidence by him for the pair. It would be extremely hard for the selectors to ignore the skipper's words and drop either of them. Essentially, Morgan has given a very strong hint to the selectors that he wants both Willey and Plunkett in the World Cup and feels confident in their ability.
This leaves Curran, Woakes and Wood in the danger zone. The next three matches are extremely crucial. All three along with Archer will go all out to prove themselves. As Rob Key said while commentating, one wouldn't like to be in England selectors' shoes at the moment.