England could add Jofra Archer’s searing pace to their bid for World Cup glory next summer by exercising a discretionary clause within their own eligibility regulations.
It has been widely assumed that the ECB would have to amend their own seven-year residency qualification period should they wish to select the Sussex fast bowler before the winter of 2022-23.
However, rule three of their own playing conditions – which relates to regulations governing the qualification of cricketers for England – begins ‘Subject to the overriding discretion of the ECB, acting with the consent of the International Cricket Council.’
England could add Jofra Archer’s searing pace to their bid for World Cup glory next summer
In simple terms, England can ignore their self-imposed criteria and apply those used by other major nations on a case-by-case basis.
Last October, the ICC reduced qualification periods from four years to three and aligned rules for the men’s game with the women’s.
It means a player with a British passport like Archer – Barbados-born to an English father – only needs to fulfil what an ICC spokesperson has confirmed as a ‘sit-out’ period of 36 months to convert from one country’s system to another.
Archer last played for West Indies Under-19 in October 2013 but was then left out of the World Cup in early 2014 and has not played domestically in the Caribbean since March of that year.
A loophole in their own regulations means the fast bowler could be fast-tracked next year
Archer could be eligible to play for England by April 2019 – ahead of the World Cup in May
He arrived in the UK to play club cricket in 2015 and has not looked back.
Exactly when he switched allegiance remains a moot point but the fact that he committed to Sussex ahead of the 2016 season means he would therefore be available in March/April next year should the England hierarchy wish to provide him with special dispensation.
It is understood they could cite a combination of his exceptional talent and potential to be a fixture on the international scene for a decade – he turned 23 in April – qualify him for such status.
Sportsmail can reveal that the Archer issue was raised by leading cricket agents at a forum at Edgbaston on Wednesday, with clarification sought from the ECB’s regulation manager Amanda Hill as to whether it would lead to changes to qualification periods in the near future.
That remains unclear although one source insisted this was unlikely.
Archer has lit up T20 franchise cricket around the world and starred in this year’s Big Bash
The ECB lengthened their own England qualification period back in 2012 in a bid to deter Kolpak cricketers, predominantly from southern Africa, turning their backs on their own countries to chase county deals and an international career here.
Since then cricketers over the age of 18 arriving from overseas with England ambitions have been forced to serve a 210-day-a-year residency over seven years.
Archer has made clear his desire to pull on the Three Lions in future and gave notice of his ability by taking 61 Division Two wickets in 2017, his first full season of Championship cricket.
He then earned a £800,000 Indian Premier League deal with Rajasthan Royals via his hostile performances with the ball for Hobart Hurricanes at last winter’s Big Bash.
Archer earned an £800,000 Indian Premier League deal with Rajasthan Royals this year
And his ability to hit 90 miles per hour with a languid bowling action is complemented by his fearsome ball striking and stunning agility in the field.
England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan remained lukewarm on the idea of Archer being in the selection mix when asked about his potential fast-tracking last week and is known to be fiercely loyal to a squad that have surged to the No 1 ranking in 50-over cricket.
But with England yet to win a global 50-over tournament it is something that could be exploited should those in possession of places suffer injury or loss of form in the build-up to next year’s event on home soil.