Fit, fast and firing – what Jofra Archer can bring to England’s Test team
Jofra Archer is expected to make his much-anticipated Test bow for England in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Not since Kevin Pietersen first appeared in whites at the same venue 14 years ago has an England Test debutant been so hyped up but Archer’s displays at the World Cup elevated his standing within the game.
Here PA runs the rule over the Bajan-born paceman and what he may offer to England’s bowling attack against Australia.
A languid approach to the crease and a smooth, uncomplicated action give little indication of what can follow once Archer releases the ball. Speeds in excess of 90mph comfortably outstrip anything England had at their disposal in their 251-run defeat to Australia in the Specsavers series opener. The tourists should also need no reminding about his occasionally devastating bouncer, with Alex Carey requiring stitches on a gash to his chin after his helmet was knocked off by a rising delivery from Archer when the sides met in the World Cup semi-final last month.
Highlights packages of Archer’s booming in-swinger sending stumps cartwheeling away while on Sussex duty have been doing the rounds on social media. England will be hoping he can produce those sorts of deliveries at the ‘Home of Cricket’, particularly if Steve Smith is at the crease. Smith, whose twin hundreds devastated England in Birmingham, averages 68.38 against right-arm pace over his career, according to CricViz, though the former Australia captain was watchful against his Rajasthan Royals team-mate in the World Cup semi-final, taking only 10 singles from the 26 legal balls he faced off Archer.
Largely relaxed and softly-spoken away from the field, Archer nevertheless delivered a withering response to Justin Langer’s suggestion the rookie can be worn down, saying: “I’m probably more ready than I’ve ever been. I think Justin Langer has another think coming.” The 24-year-old was England’s leading wicket-taker at the World Cup with 20 scalps, showing few signs of being overawed by the big occasion. Indeed, such was his standing on England’s path to glory that he was trusted with bowling the Super Over in the final against New Zealand, holding his nerve to get his side over the line.
Archer missed the series opener to allow a side strain he managed during the World Cup more time to recover. England would be forgiven for having some misgivings about Archer after watching James Anderson break down with a calf injury in the series opener. But the difference between the pair is that Anderson went into Edgbaston without any match practice under his belt while Archer went some way to proving his fitness in a Second XI fixture last week, bagging a six-wicket haul and a 99-ball century for Sussex against Gloucestershire.