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25th May 2019

England stars preview biggest summer of cricket since 2005

Tom Curran, Jonny Bairstow and Jofra Archer speak to JOE about the Cricket World Cup and how they unwind from the pressure of being an elite athlete

Reuben Pinder

“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get involved, it’s a world cup where the nation will be united”

English cricket is at a crossroads. In one direction, a return to its image of an elitist, exclusionary sport, only to be watched by and played by the privileged. In the opposite direction, the possibility of a brighter, inclusive future in which the sport is accessible to the masses and to be appreciated by people from all walks of life.

This summer, when England will host a World Cup and an Ashes series, could prove to be a seminal moment for the sport. England stars Jofra Archer, Tom Curran and Jonny Bairstow spoke exclusively to JOE about how significant this summer could be and how they unwind from the intense pressures that being an elite athlete brings.

The sun is beaming down at the home of cricket, Lord’s, where England will take on Australia in the upcoming World Cup next month. Archer is trying to curl a football into the top corner of a net, refusing to stop until he makes it. Eventually he makes his way over to the stands where he tells me this summer is just the start of a larger movement.

“I think if we do win the tournament, who knows what boys and girls we can inspire?” the Bajan-born bowler ponders.

“I remember the reason I started, I was inspired by the great West Indians. I think we have a chance to make history and inspire the next generation. We’re trying to get cricket to the number one sport in the UK as well so it’s just the start really.”

With so much at stake beyond the obvious reward of winning the World Cup, Archer accepts there is huge pressure on the England side to deliver and entertain this summer.

“I think the pressure is more for England, not just me. We’re the number one team in the world and we’ve been deemed favourites as well.”

This pressure is a good pressure, says opening batsman Jonny Bairstow.

“There’s pressure on everyone, every game that we go out and play. It’s a good pressure,” he explains.

Bairstow too acknowledges the significant of this summer, sharing Archer’s belief that it’s about inspiring the next generation.

“It could be massive if things go to plan, it’s about inspiring the next generation, that’s what we want to do, that’s why we play cricket, to get people inspired into playing the game that we’re fortunate enough to do for a living.”

Tom Curran also uses that word, ‘massive’ to describe this summer’s potential: “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get involved, it’s a world cup where the nation will be united.”

This hype around the tournament, the expectation for a repeat of the effect that the 2005 Ashes series no doubt puts a lot of pressure on the players even during their down time. How does an elite athlete unwind? By playing more sport, it turns out.

Both Curran and Bairstow enjoy a round of golf with their teammates, while the Yorkshireman also fills his time watching rugby and horse racing.

Archer, being one of the younger members in the squad, is big into his gaming, citing Fortnite as his favourite way to pass time in England, while back home he prefers to “chill with his dogs.”

There are just five days to go before the cricket World Cup kicks off, as England take on South Africa at The Oval. Eoin Morgan’s side have never had a bigger chance to capture the nation’s imagination, and it seems like the players are ready for that test.

ECB has launched #ExpressYourself – a bold campaign to excite and inspire fans across the country as England prepare for a massive summer of cricket. The campaign aims to connect fans with the team and give them a unique insight into how the players express themselves on and off the pitch