Sportsmail columnist Jofra Archer was one of the stars of England’s glorious summer of 2019.
He misses the Twenty20 World Cup through injury but his close friend Chris Jordan will be integral to Eoin Morgan‘s team’s attempt to become the first in history to hold both white-ball titles simultaneously.
Ahead of Saturday’s opening match, they spoke to Richard Gibson about their first acquaintance in Barbados, how their relationship has developed… and yoga!
Sportsmail columnist Jofra Archer was one of the stars of England’s glorious summer of 2019
Richard Gibson: How did you first come across Jofra, CJ?
Chris Jordan: I used to go back to play for Barbados in the winter when I was first at Surrey, so our first meeting was in the nets at Queen’s Park in Bridgetown.
He greeted me with a very fast bouncer but thankfully I’d been pre-warned because Shai Hope, the West Indies wicketkeeper-batsman, ran up to the stumps and told me, ‘This guy’s a bit quicker than you think.’
I thought, ‘I’ve played a bit of cricket, I’m sure I’ll be all right.’ But it was the fastest bouncer he could bowl and if it had been on target, I’d have been cleaned up. It was quite an introduction.
Jofra Archer: Shai wasn’t lying, either! When someone new comes along, you’ve got to let them know who you are. It’s like, ‘I’ve never seen you before, this is my area.’
RG: Is that a Barbados thing? There’s such a great tradition of fast bowling across the Caribbean. It sounds like you were marking your territory, Jofra!
Jordan (above) was speaking from Dubai
Archer, meanwhile, is based in Barbados
JA: A lot of stuff happens in Barbados cricket that’s predictable. Certain balls in a game you can call. If someone bowls a bouncer, they’re 100 per cent going to try to hit your stumps next ball.
A bouncer is always followed by a yorker — but if the bowler misses it, it’s going for six or four. And when it does, you’re giving a lot of chirp.
RG: So even as a young lad, you gave Chris some chirp?
JA: Not really because he’s much older than me and there’s a fine line between chirping and showing respect. If he was my age, he would definitely have got some, but I was still feeling him out at that stage.
CJ: I don’t necessarily see it as a matter of respect. Bowling like that is a way of getting our intensity up and our competitive juices flowing. If the competitiveness is there it can really bring the best out in you.
I’d say that our sessions have always had that edge. It kind of depends on who bowls at who first. If it’s me and I give him two bouncers, I know I’m going to get three or four back. Equally, if he gives me three or four, I’m giving him five or six.
Our friendship started with that bouncer and there have been plenty more since. Soon after that first ball, we started speaking about the game, about bowling, batting, got to know each other. We trained together almost every day for four months and naturally grew closer. That’s how life goes.
RG: It’s been well documented, Chris, that you played a big part in Jofra coming over to the UK as a teenager. Can you remember that first conversation when it became clear that, like you, he had a British parent?
CJ: Very vaguely as it was one of the first conversations we had. It came as a surprise but I don’t think it was at the forefront of our minds. At that stage, no one could have called what would transpire.
JA: Honestly, when he told me that he was going to speak to Mark Robinson, his coach at Sussex, I doubted he would. It wasn’t as though I’d known him for years. But to this day I’m very grateful for everything he did.
Occasionally, I look back and think, ‘Imagine if that bouncer had hit CJ’. Or ‘What would have happened if he didn’t like me?’ Life might have been a little bit different.
Jordan and Archer had a fiery first meeting but are now friends and international team-mates
CJ: Never, man. It’s all part of the game. Growing up in the Caribbean, you know how tough it can be to get a break and knowing my own path, getting a scholarship and moving to Surrey, it was nice to be able to present a similar opportunity to Jof.
Putting a word in for him was a no-brainer. Then, when he came over I knew what it was like in the professional environment, fending for yourself, growing up quickly, so I was always decently placed to pass on advice.
But the journey was always going to be his. I could only suggest or guide. It was always going to come from within him to make the strides he did.
RG: Given how close you are, what was it like, Jofra, when CJ handed you your Test cap at Lord’s?
JA: We call each other pretty much every day and I found it really strange when we spoke on the eve of the match that he was randomly in London. I was like, ‘This ain’t making any sense. Is he in trouble? Has he been kidnapped?’
But I recalled talking to Joe Root in a team huddle a few weeks earlier, during the 50-over World Cup, and saying that if ever I got to play Test cricket, I wanted CJ to give me my cap. Joe said all right.
Jordan presented Archer with his Test cap ahead of the second Ashes match at Lord’s in 2019
I didn’t think they were actually going to do it. It was amazing to debut at the ground on which we had made such great memories just a few weeks earlier against New Zealand.
My family were there and I got my dog, Blu, on the first evening of the match because we got rained off. I got changed and drove straight to Luton.
RG: You both love dogs, don’t you? Isn’t it right that your dog, Griff, is also rather fond of Jofra, CJ?
CJ: That’s about right. I’m seen as the strict one, so he likes going by Jofra for treats. We live very close to each other and I view Jof as family. He’s always round, so if I’m cooking, I make sure he’s included and vice versa. That’s how we live.
RG: Who’s the better cook?
JA: We cook the same things.
CJ: To be fair, he got a dish from me and now doesn’t stop cooking it! Salmon, sweet potato, vegetables, avocado. It’s the way we flavour the salmon, that’s the speciality.
RG: Do you ever fall out?
CJ: All the time. Just not for long. It’s not as though it lasts for days or weeks. More like a few minutes.
Fast bowler Archer will miss the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup due to suffering an injury
RG: Sounds like a typical brotherly dynamic. All joking aside, what was it like to see your mate helping England win the World Cup?
CJ: I was with Sussex and we were watching the game in Manchester. The way Jof’s career had gone up to that point – he’d burst on the scene, enjoyed a brilliant first year, backed it up with a brilliant second and then did it again – it was normal for him to influence matches.
He’d put together three or four years of high-quality, consistent performances and in every day of county cricket, whether it was a four-day game, 50 overs or T20, he found ways of making an impact. Whether with the bat, ball or a freak catch.
The way that final unfolded, when Jofra came out to bat, I felt he was going to win the game, for sure. I was nervous for him but I had little doubt. That’s the way things always went with him. He was either going to hit the winning runs or have a significant partnership with Ben Stokes to get us over the line.
So when he got out, I was like, ‘Damn’. Then when it went to the super over, I thought, ‘Ah, OK. This is how it’s supposed to end.’
I knew he’d have a significant impact. When it was all over and he was celebrating, I got goosebumps and a small tear came to my eye. There was so much emotion for me when I considered where we’d been six or seven years back. I couldn’t be happier for the entire team but especially for Jof.
RG: Since then there have been a catalogue of injury issues. That must have been pretty tough?
CJ: We talk about it regularly and you wouldn’t know he is going through such a challenging time because he handles the situation really well. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even think he was injured; simply that he was still part of the England team in Dubai, going about business as normal.
That’s the type of character he is. I take my hat off to him because other people wouldn’t necessarily handle it as well. Equally, he’s been so diligent in everything he has been asked to do training-wise. He listens to the medical team and is determined not only to come back but come back stronger.
RG: The tables will be turned this week, though, and you’re going to have to get up at the crack of dawn to cheer on England from the Caribbean, Jofra.
JA: The time difference is OK. I watched Scotland beat Bangladesh from 10 overs in. But for day games, generally I will see you for the second innings!
England boss Chris Silverwood (l) and captain Joe Root (r) will have to cope without Archer
Of course, I wanted to be there with the team. But I’ve seen these circumstances as a blessing in one way because I get to do my rehab at home instead of in the gym at Hove.
Mentally, that’s a positive thing. I can do everything I need here. From my experiences over the past couple of years, I understand why some people retire rather than do rehab again. It can be a lonely place.
Sometimes you are the only person in the gym, and you can do the same exercises for two weeks before you change your routine. CJ’s not at home, George Garton will be off to the Big Bash soon and Phil Salt’s moved away, too.
RG: Sounds like all your mates are leaving you permanently.
JA: With CJ going back to Surrey, we were looking at old photos the other day in his flat. Some of them don’t even look like him!
RG: Are you looking for a home in London, then Chris?
CJ: Yes, that’s the plan. Although with everything going on, it’s not something I am active with at the moment. I am trying to focus on the upcoming weeks, give my best to that and think about everything else after.
I have thought about moving house, of course, and it is something to occupy the mind while living in a bubble. It can give you a little bit of an escape.
JA: Anything else to take your mind off things and relax?
RG: Pray tell.
CJ: Sounds like you’re going to have to ask him.
JA: He’s found a new love for yoga. I thought he was too young for yoga but I guess not.
Skilful death bowler Jordan will be a spearhead in England’s pace battery in Archer’s absence
CJ: It’s come about because when I go to Barbados, I head to the beach twice a day for a month and my body feels amazing. It doesn’t take too much warming up. But when I stop that the body can get into bad habits. So I’ve got into doing yoga most days.
It gives me a substitute feeling to what I get spending time in sea water. I never thought such words would be coming out of my mouth! But I really enjoy it. It keeps me ticking over. I look forward to Jofra talking to me about it in a few years as well.
RG: You might get the chance to reminisce about each other having a World Cup winner’s medal. How realistic a prospect is that?
CJ: There’s definitely a confidence in this England group. The boys have been together for some time. The chemistry is good and it’s just a matter of adapting to these conditions as quickly as possible. The team who do that quickest will go far in the tournament. That’s our focus.
Yeah, the prospect of getting one of those medals is nice but I remember our last campaign. We also played West Indies at the start. We lost. Then, after the first innings against South Africa, the odds of us winning that tournament would have been pretty high. Who’d have thought we would go all the way to the final?
The one thing that sticks out about 2016 was how we stayed in the moment. We can’t be different now. We must treat opponents with respect, do our homework and combine that with the fearless, big-hearted cricket we’re accustomed to playing.
RG: West Indies are up first. That must be a fixture that has extra meaning for you?
CJ: It’s always special. I have many good mates in the West Indies team. Some I grew up with, some I met a bit later in life and in a way when I play against them it feels like that first net against Jofra.
But my focus will be wrapped up in what we do. When I play like that, everything else usually takes care of itself. I don’t look to get into too many individual battles. Just adapt to the situation. Yes, it’s special to play West Indies and I had one of my most memorable games against them.
JA: Oh boy, here we go.
CJ: He’s heard this story plenty of times.
RG: One last time, please.
CJ: Jofra was there and it was when he got his first England shirt.
JA: It was 2014 and half my school were allowed to go to the game at the Kensington Oval. CJ closed the first innings out by taking Dwayne Bravo for four sixes in the final over, then took three wickets and a couple of catches.
It was the last game of a T20 series. The England kit usually changes every two years, and that had just happened, so loads of the guys were giving their old stuff away. I waved to CJ, having told my buddies, ‘That’s my mate’. But they were like, ‘We didn’t realise you knew him like that’, when he came over.
One of my boys was wearing his shirt last week and I had mine on — long-sleeved, Brit Insurance on the front, blue with red trim — the other day because the sun was really hot and I didn’t want to get burnt. It was also what I was wearing on the first day I arrived at Sussex, if you remember? You picked me up from the station.
RG: Does it have Jordan on the back?
JA: Nah, he gave those numbered ones to his other friends.
RG: You were more taken by Craig Kieswetter in those days, I recall.
CJ: Exactly. He didn’t care about me. What I do remember about that game, though, was that it was the first time all my family and friends watched me play international cricket live. Great moment.
RG: Speaking of family, how do they feel about a game like Saturday’s when England play West Indies?
JA: They want us to do extremely well — but they want England to lose! They want us to be amazing; to take five-for and score a hundred. As long as West Indies win.
CJ: One hundred per cent. There are certainly split feelings, although my mum’s English, so if the team wins she’s happy.