As the old adage goes, batsmen win you matches but bowlers win you tournaments. So it is little surprise that one of England’s finest pacemen in Devon Malcolm believes England should be using their quickest bowlers to blast through their World Cup opponents this summer.
Malcolm has backed both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood to be the men leaving stumps akimbo across England and Wales during this summer’s tournament.
England have risen to the top of the world rankings under Eoin Morgan and will start this summer as the favourites to lift the trophy for the first time on home soil. After all that success, some believe it would be unwise to tinker with a winning formula this close to kick off.
But Archer – who will be in action in the upcoming IPL for Rajasthan Royals and has qualified early on residency grounds for England after a change in the requirements – is worth the risk, according to Malcolm.
“If Jofra Archer is available he is too good a player to leave out of the squad,” he said.
“He is such a quick bowler you can use him to open the bowling or he is brilliant at bowling at the death.
“If you need a wicket he is a man you can call on. I would love to be in Morgan’s position where he has that luxury.
“He will be coming into the squad with guys who he is trying to knock out of the England side but that’s not his problem.”
England head coach Trevor Bayliss has admitted that England will take a look at Archer in their ODI series against Pakistan before the tournament. And Malcolm is backing the star to shine brightly and carry that momentum into the World Cup proper.
“Archer will be under a lot of pressure. We need him in the squad as early as possible and training with the guys,” added the former England and Derbyshire paceman.
“I know although he has been putting in great performances around the world in the shorter formats, IPL, Big Bash and all that business, he has not been out there with the England boys.
“It will be good for him to get in the set-up, do some practice with the boys because it can be daunting. When you’re playing around the world, as one of the overseas players as one of several stars, it is a different type of pressure.
“You just play in those competitions, do as well as you can, help your side but this is the World Cup with your country, adopted country or chosen country. It’s a totally different type of pressure here.
“I promise you in this type of competition, the World Cup, you can choke or get nervous if you do not get him into the fold pretty quickly.”
Wood is another paceman Malcolm would want to see the in the England one-day side, despite only limited success with 41 wickets in his 40 matches so far.
But he believes in what he had seen from the Durham quick in the West Indies – especially in his single Test appearance when he took 5-41 as England won the dead rubber in St Lucia.
Wood has reformed his run-up since the end of the domestic season with England coaches Chris Silverwood and Kevin Shine, with the change meaning he could come to the fore across all formats.
“Wood had been frustrated in the Test matches in the West Indies, sitting there, not playing but came in for the final match and did extremely well,” Malcolm said.
“I like the changes to his run-up. Prior to it changing I thought he was going to have a lot of problems with injury.
“His jump-jet run-up put too much pressure on his body. For him to have that short run-up was going to create problems with knees, legs, back and shoulder.
“But now it’s extended he looks like a fast bowler and a lot more relaxed. You need that momentum going into the crease.
“He was impressively quick. He was into the team and all of a sudden the West Indies boys were not quite as in line as they had been earlier in the series due to his impressive pace.”
And looking further ahead through the summer, Malcolm believes England’s key Test bowlers will be champing at the bit by the time the Ashes come around in August.
With the longer form of the game not seeing any action until later in the year, it gives plenty of time for James Anderson and Stuart Broad to get ready for the climax to the summer season in England.
Malcolm hopes County Championship fans will be the beneficiary as England’s top two pacemen ever, in terms of wickets, get a long run up to find their form ahead of facing Australia. And Malcolm – who took 128 wickets in his 40-Test career – believes any English success in the World Cup will mean the two will be keen to leave their own mark on the summer.
“If you look at their partnership, they will be champing at the bit when their time comes,” he added. “They are going to be sitting watching the World Cup and hoping the guys do well.
“But they will be playing county cricket and waiting for the Ashes. Anderson is still one of best swing bowlers, especially in English conditions.
“Broad was getting things going in the West Indies. They will be working on things because they are far from finished.
“These guys still want to play for a lot longer. I’m keeping my fingers crossed England are going to be very successful this summer in the World Cup and taking it home.
“It will make these guys say, ‘what can we do to make it a perfect summer? It’s win the Ashes.’ They want to get the Ashes back there is no doubt about that.”
CONOR MCLOUGHLIN / Photo: Getty Images
ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour, driven by Nissan, commences 100-day tour of England and Wales and will be at over 100 locations and events before arriving back in London ready for the opening match on May 30