After watching England’s Euro 2020 penalty defeat, Jofra Archer has revealed his fears at the abuse he would have received had he failed to secure the 2019 World Cup.
Archer was at Wembley when Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka and his good friend Marcus Rashford missed their penalties leading to the heartbreaking defeat and a raft of racist online abuse.
And speaking in a three part documentary "You Guys are History" on the life and careers of England’s black Test cricketers to be shown during the lunch breaks at the fourth Test at the Oval this week, Archer explains why it is important he continues to inspire young black kids to play the game.
“To be honest, it was so predictable,” said Archer. “You could see it from a mile away.
“I was lucky enough to be at the ground and I knew how I felt when the first penalty missed, then the second and then the last,” he says.
“You feel you have a personal connection to it, having been in a final and in a high pressure situation and been entrusted with the match-defining moment.
“If England didn’t win the 50-over World Cup, I would have taken a long nice break away from cricket and away from England as well probably.
“If we had lost, who knows what would have happened. I could have been abused every time I stepped outside my house.
“A lot of black kids might look at what is happening off the field and say ‘look at the abuse they get, I don’t want to be in that sport.’
Archer is the latest in a long and proud line of successful black cricketers, not least Devon Malcolm who claimed 9-57 at the Oval back in 1994 and was briefly lauded only to experience the other side of the coin in South Africa a year later when his coaches tore him apart.
The documentary examines how black players were once part of the furniture of English cricket, and how despite the prejudice many of them faced, and the hurdles they had to overcome they still made it to the top.
The tale of Phil DeFreitas’ childhood is a particularly difficult one to hear, but he is by no means alone.
As the scorer of a remarkable 173 not out to beat Australia 20 years ago, Mark Butcher presents from a position of real authority and says: “The word I come back to is resilience and the ability to keep getting the best out of yourself even when the odds are stacked against you.
“I’m sad that at present, this generation of black kids appears not to see a path for itself in the great game of cricket and it has been left to the black community itself to remedy that situation.”
Following a year on from Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent’s seminal interviews on racism, English cricket, like the rest of society, still has a problem.
The black talent pool of players in the professional game has dried up to a trickle, which is why Rainford-Brent has set up the ACE programme to try and start up the taps again.
And Archer knows what his and Chris Jordan’s job is now.
“We are here to fly the flag and let kids know that it can be done,” said Archer. “Ebony is doing great work at the ACE program and anything we can do to help will go a long way.”
Butcher questions how, 30 years on from a summer in which four black men played Test cricket for England as well as a fifth of Caribbean extraction, this will be yet another summer when the number is zero.
Likewise the number of coaches at county teams. As the only black British head coach at a county Mark Alleyne couldn’t even get so much as an interview after leaving Gloucestershire.
“I’ve thought about it a lot and I do think it is because of race,” says Alleyne. “But I don’t think it is because people hate black people, I just don’t think we have enough presence as a coaching group that says we can do a good job. We need to change that lens.”
"You Guys Are History’" will be shown on Sky Sports Cricket during the lunch breaks of the 4th Test
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