From No Hope to England's great hope - when Jofra Archer went on tour to Cornwall

Jofra Archer and Akeem Jordan celebrate their hundreds for Two Hopes CC Jon Filby

Jofra Archer has, at times, been forced to take the scenic route to international cricket.

Not so long ago, he was reduced to sleeping on a friend's floor as his pursuit of a career in the game was threatened by a series of back injuries. Struggling to make a dent even in club cricket - his team wanted him to bowl them to league success; he could provide only a few overs before the pain became too great - he found himself representing what might best be described as a pub team with team-mates who, let's put this delicately, probably wouldn't challenge him in the bleep test.

Jon Filby, now chairman of the Sussex Cricket Foundation, takes up the story.

"I formed a team in 1985 with my good friend Gavin Bailey," he says. "We're called the Two Hopes who, as everyone knows, are 'Bob' and 'No'. It's social cricket, really, and every couple of years we arrange a tour of the west country. By 2015, I was 55 years old and, while there were some younger guys in the side - some good cricketers - we had no great pretensions.

"Anyway, when the fixtures came through for our tour that year we had a bit of a shock. We had been scheduled to play against some pretty strong county league sides and feared a bit of a mismatch. So my son, Tom, asked a team-mate of his from Slinfold Cricket Club - the Bajan allrounder Akeem Jordan - whether he would like to come along and strengthen us. He said yes, but could he bring his friend, Jofra. 'Great,' we said. There was no payment, or anything like that, but we said they could stay with us.

"The first thing that struck us all about Jofra was his manners. We had hired a big house in West Looe and there were about 20 of us staying there. Anyway, every morning my partner and I would cook breakfast for everyone. Jofra helped out with both the cooking and the washing-up and immediately struck up a good rapport with everyone."

Archer had come to England in 2014. Chris Jordan, who he had met in the nets in Barbados, had suggested to Archer that he should try to use his UK passport (his dad, Frank, had been a driver on the London Underground for many years before retiring to Liverpool) and encouraged him to come to Sussex. But while the club monitored his progress, there was no contract and very little income.

In those first couple of years, he played for Middleton-on-Sea in the Sussex Cricket League. He was clearly talented, but the back injuries were persistent - as they often are in young, fast bowlers - and there were times he couldn't bowl. In one game, Archer reduced Cuckfield to 8 for 5, taking all five wickets, but then couldn't bowl any more. Cuckfield recovered to go on and win and, while Archer was popular, there was just a little frustration about his inability to deliver the overs his side wanted.

So he found himself at a loose end and was able to join Akeem and the rest of the Two Hopes in Cornwall. With Filby deciding it probably wouldn't be in the spirit of things to unleash two Barbadian fast bowlers on their unsuspecting opposition, it was instead decided they would bat at No. 6 and No. 7 "if required".

They were required rather sooner than might have been expected. Their opponents that day, Lanhydrock CC, soon reduced them to 26 for 4 when Archer strode out to join Filby. It soon became apparent that, however quick Archer was between the wickets, there weren't going to be many threes run.

"I have lovely memories of batting with him," Filby says. "I think we only put on about 25 but, what I really remember is, when I was out, he put his arm round my shoulder and walked me most of the way back to the pavilion. The funny thing is, just over a year later, I saw him do exactly the same thing on Championship debut after he had added 160 for the seventh wicket with CJ [Chris Jordan]. On that occasion, Jofra was out and he and CJ walked most of the way back to the pavilion commiserating with one another."

Filby's dismissal brought Jordan and Archer together. And together was where they stayed for the next couple of hours, both registering centuries and adding 180 together in increasingly fluent fashion.

"It's a beautiful place to play cricket," Filby says, "with the pitch in the grounds of a National Trust property. There was a large metal fence at one end of the ground which protects cars visiting the property from cricket balls. But in the later stages of the innings, both of them started to challenge each other to see how many balls they could hit over it. Quite a crowd developed. It was obvious we were watching something a bit special."

Neither man bowled when Lanhydrock batted, but Archer kept wicket and, in Filby's words "did it beautifully". The Two Hopes won by ten runs.

"I was a bit worried Lanhydrock might feel we had duped them," he says. "Some clubs might not have liked us turning up with these two young guys who were clearly a class above. But they put on a BBQ for us in the evening and were perfect hosts. Jofra and Akeem impressed everyone with their cricket and their friendliness."

At that time, Jordan was the more successful cricketer. He played as an overseas cricketer for several years in Sussex and Archer, until weeks before his breakthrough in first-class cricket, was sleeping on his floor. Filby noticed that Archer, in particular, had no money to spend and ensured his plate was always full at breakfast and tea. "I used to wonder when else he ate," he says now. "He had things really tough for a while. It's lovely to see things work out for him."

Roles are reversed now. Archer is already established as something of a superstar in T20 cricket and would appear to be on the brink of an exciting international career. Really, his future looks golden. Jordan, meanwhile, recently broke into the Combined Campuses and Colleges side in Caribbean regional cricket - he claimed a five-wicket haul in the semi-final of the Super 50 Cup before his side completed a shock by defeating Guyana in the final - but a first-class debut remains elusive. Even after Archer made his own Sussex debut, however, he could be seen going to watch Slinfold CC play to support his old friend.

It is remarkable the role chance has played in Archer's success, though. Not only was he fortunate to be able to utilise the UK passport he inherited from his father, he was also thankful for something of a fixture disaster which saw him handed a first-class debut that might, possibly, not have happened otherwise.

Sussex, you see, were involved in a T20 match in Cardiff on July 7, 2016. There's nothing unusual in that, you might think. But that game finished at around 10pm and, 13 hours later, they were due to play Pakistan in a first-class match at Hove. Only three men from that T20 side were included in the tour game and Archer, who had by then played a bit for Sussex 2nd XI but was still without a contract, was given his chance. He claimed two wickets in his first spell - Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood - and later added Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali. Within days, he had signed his first county contract, and the rest is history.

But let's get back to Cornwall. The day after the Lanhydrock game, the Two Hopes took on Falmouth. But there was to be no repetition of Archer's success. Instead he was dismissed second ball but, rather than moping about his failure, he did what every could club man does: he took stints as both scorer and umpire. He remains good friends with many of those with whom he played on the tour and not so long ago turned out to support a Sussex Cricket Foundation event.

"He hasn't changed at all," Filby says. "He's as humble and modest as ever; the most unassuming superstar you could hope to meet."

So any chance of a recall for the Two Hopes? "He'd be very welcome," Filby smiles. "But we think he might have bigger fish to fry these days."