Jofra Archer staked his Ashes claim with six for 27 in Sussex’s second XI fixture against Gloucestershire.
The 24-year-old, who has been struggling with injury, was left out of his country’s crushing first Test defeat to Australia at Edgbaston but is set for a recall with James Anderson ruled out of the second Test at Lord’s.
Archer was England’s leading wicket-taker with 20 during their recent World Cup success but required painkillers to deal with a side strain in that tournament, describing the pain as “pretty excruciating”.
He took one for 28 for his county in their Vitality Blast victory over Kent and began in impressive fashion on his red-ball return, showing good pace from the outset and taking two wickets in his opening five overs.
He had Tom Price caught behind for one by wicketkeeper Joe Billings with the second ball of the fifth over and Gareth Roderick edging to Jack Carson at slip as he bowled back-to-back maidens in the ninth and 11th.
Jofra Archer ripped through the Gloucestershire second XI with a six-wicket haul as he looked to prove his fitness ahead of the second Ashes Test at Lord's— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) August 6, 2019
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He conceded 11 runs from his next 12 balls, leaving him with figures of two for 19 at the end of the 15th over, but removed the off stump of Matt Brewer with the fourth ball of the 22nd over having been hit for four by the same batsman three balls earlier.
Gloucestershire were all out for 79 at lunch after Archer took a further three wickets to finish with six for 27, with four maiden overs.
Dominic Goodman was caught by Tom Haines off the fourth delivery of the 29th over before Archer followed that up two balls later by hitting Jack Worgan’s middle stump.
Gloucestershire top scorer Gregory Willows was Archer’s final victim, caught by Carson for 38 at the start of the 33rd over.
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Steve Smith’s heroics in the first 2019 Ashes Test at Birmingham have seen the Australia batsman close down the gap on India star Virat Kohli in the latest ICC Test rankings for batsmen.
Smith registered tons under pressure in each innings of the Edgbaston Test to mark a triumphant return to red-ball cricket with his displays helping Australia crush England by 251 runs in the end.
The right-hander’s scores of 144 and 142 in what was his first Test match in over a year has seen him climb back into the top-three of the rankings. The 46 rating points gained by Smith from his Edgbaston display has seen him leapfrog India’s Cheteshwar Pujara to the No3 spot and he is now only 19 points behind top-ranked Kohli.
Smith was the No1 Test batsman in the world before he was handed a one-year suspension from international cricket following the infamous ball-tampering episode in Newlands last year.
Despite his prolonged absence from the international game, the Aussie has continued to maintain a lofty position in the Test rankings and he can further reduce the gap on Kohli and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson in the coming weeks.
India’s next Test match is slated to begin on August 22 when they lock horns with West Indies in a two-match series. Smith will be in action for Australia in the second Ashes Test against England at Lord’s which gets underway on August 14 and could potentially even reclaim the No1 ranking.
Meanwhile, Australia pacer Pat Cummins has consolidated his position at the top of the bowlers’ rankings following his seven-wicket haul across the two innings at Edgbaston. There were also big gains for Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon whose nine wickets in the win have helped him rise to 13th spot in the rankings.
ICC Test Rankings for Batsmen
ICC Test Rankings for Bowlers
Australia coach Justin Langer believes that Steve Smith’s epic display in the first 2019 Ashes Test at Edgbaston is on a different level to anything he has seen in the past from India star Virat Kohli.
Smith marked a glorious return to Test cricket after a one-year suspension with twin tons at Birmingham to help Australia thrash hosts England by 251 runs. The right-hander rescued his side from perilous positions in both innings of the Test to set up the big win and has been drawing in the accolades from all quarters ever since.
Langer had hailed Kohli as the best batsman in the world following his displays Down Under towards the end of last year which helped India record their first ever Test series win on Australian soil.
“I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith’s knocks) is just another level,” the Australia head coach stated.
“You have in different teams, different eras, great players but for someone like Smudge (Smith), who is averaging over 60 and the way he played in this innings with all the pressure and everything that is on him, it was not only great skill but enormous character, enormous courage, very brave, unbelievable concentration, unbelievable physical stamina, unbelievable mental stamina, all traits of great players.”
The former Australia opening batsman has termed Smith as the best ‘problem solver’ in the game after his knocks of 144 and 142 at Edgbaston.
“You throw to him in the nets and you literally feel like you can’t get him out and there’s no batsman like that and you just end up throwing a million balls and you are just lost for answer,” said Langer.
“I guess you would have to ask England how they feel about that and they had some interesting tactics for him.
“They had the really short point which I had never seen before, they obviously had a tactic they prepared and Trevor Bayliss has seen a lot of Steve Smith since he was a kid. They would have studied him closely but he just has a knack, well, he is the best problem-solver in the game.”