Jos Buttler believes Jofra Archer’s “X factor” can re-energise England’s Ashes challenge.
Paceman Archer is in line to make a much-anticipated Test debut at Lord’s this week as a replacement for England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson, who is sidelined by a calf injury.
Australia took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series after winning the first Test at Edgbaston by the thumping margin of 251 runs.
“He’s got the X factor,” Buttler said of fellow World Cup winner Archer at a Kookaburra sponsorship event at Lord’s.
“In his short international career so far we’ve seen what an impact he’s had.
“He’s got amazing skills with the white ball, but talking to him he prefers bowling with the red one.
“That’s exciting for us, and it’s exciting for the world to see him in the Test arena.
“He tends to cope with expectation well, he’s a pretty laid-back character who has an immense trust in his game. So if he gets his chance I expect him to perform really well.”
Australia ran out convincing first Test winners despite stumbling to 122 for eight on the opening day.
England claimed a 90-run lead on first innings before being bowled out for just 146 on the final day.
“We played some good cricket at Edgbaston, but we didn’t play well enough for long enough,” Buttler said.
“The challenge is still the same. Every time you come and play at Lord’s is special, especially in an Ashes Test.
“There’s no need to panic, we’re 1-0 down, but there’s four matches to go in this series.
“We know we’ve got a fantastic team and we’ve got to stay calm. Nothing really changes.
“We’ve lost that game, but we’ve got enough belief to make it one-all.”
The key to England’s hopes is finding a way to dismiss Steve Smith, who scored two hundreds in the Ashes opener and now averages nearly 63 in Test cricket.
Smith scored 144 and 142 at Edgbaston upon his return to Test cricket after the ball-tampering scandal in March 2018.
Buttler knows Smith well as the two men were team-mates at the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League this year.
“He’s pretty good, isn’t he?” Buttler said. “What he does is put you under pressure for a long period of time and puts demands on you.
“He’s a fantastic player who can take advantage of that.
“He’s been one of the best players for a while now and that’s the challenge of playing Test cricket against Australia.”
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Australia express pacer Mitchell Starc has no qualms about carrying drinks for his side in the Ashes series in England if it means that they retain the famous urn.
Starc was omitted from the playing XI for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston which Australia went on to win by 251 runs and the left-armed fast bowler is not worried about missing out again in the second Test at Lord’s as long the bowling unit continues to perform.
“We’re here to win the Ashes,” Starc was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“We’re not just here to make it on the park. We want to win this Ashes.
“Whether that’s a different bowling attack each game, or the same through five Test matches, it’s pretty exciting.”
It was Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle who shared the pace responsibilities for Australia in a four-man bowling attack at Edgbaston with Starc and Josh Hazlewood being the unlucky ones to miss out.
Pattinson, who made his first Test appearance for Australia in more than three years, has come in for some special praise from Starc for the way he has combated his multiple injuries.
“It’s awesome to see Jimmy (Pattinson) back after what he’s been through and I guess similarly what Pat Cummins has been through previously,” Starc said.
“It’s a while ago now but to have those guys back fit and firing … it was fantastic to see him (Pattinson) playing Test cricket again.
“Having his body let him down and to come back and play Test cricket again was pretty special. He’s someone who Josh (Hazlewood) and I have grown up playing with and against, it was great to see him out there.”
Starc and Hazlewood were given a recent run out in Australia’s drawn warm-up game against Worcestershire with the former picking up 2-56 while the latter returned with figures of 3-34.
All eyes will now be on which pace attack Australia will field at Lord’s in the second Ashes Test against England which gets underway on August 14. Tim Paine and his men are attempting to become the first Australian side since 2001 to win an Ashes series on English soil.
Just 13 overs of play was possible in the first ODI before the game was called off. India remain the favourites for Sunday’s clash with the Men in Blue whitewashing the Windies 3-0 in the preceding T20I series.
Hosts search for ODI redemption
Despite the presence of some of the most exciting limited-overs talents, it has been an unending struggle for West Indies in the ODI format.
The last time that the two-time world champions won an ODI series was all the way back in August, 2014 when they blanked Bangladesh 3-0 on their home soil. In the five years since, West Indies have played 19 ODI series without winning a single one of them.
Eighteen of those series have come under the captaincy of all-rounder Jason Holder and he will be desperate for the horrendous run to come to an end.
A loss on Friday will make it 20 series without a win and that is an unflattering record the Windies will definitely not want to have besides their name.
Gayle on the verge of double milestone
Chris Gayle’s wish to play one more ODI series after the World Cup has been granted but the veteran’s decision has also divided opinions. Many feel that the time is right for the 39-year-old to now step aside and the let the ODI team rebuild.
The Jamaican has not given any indication that the current series will be his last for the West Indies but he will definitely not want to bow out before breaking Brian Lara’s longstanding record.
The most-capped Windies ODI player in history will be making his 300th appearance in the format on Sunday and will have his eyes on overhauling Lara’s run-tally.
With 10,342 runs to his name in 299 matches, Gayle is just seven runs away from become the all-time leading run-scorer for West Indies in ODI cricket. Lara currently holds the record with 10,348 runs in 295 matches.
India likely to remain unchanged
With the first ODI lasting just 13 overs, skipper Virat Kohli will be hesitant to make changes. The visitors had named 24-year-old batsman Shreyas Iyer in the playing XI for the clash and he will likely get another chance on Sunday.
The middle-order batsman can be the answer to India’s No4 issue if he can take his chances. Kedar Jadhav also seems set to feature on Sunday after being preferred over the likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey in the first ODI.
It was Kuldeep Yadav who captured the sole wicket of Gayle in the first ODI and the left-arm wrist-spinner will most probably get the nod over Yuzvendra Chahal again. Kuldeep was well below his best at the recent World Cup but Kohli will be hoping that the wicket of Gayle can help the 24-year-old rediscover his bowling rhythm again.
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis,Shai Hope (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Jason Holder (c), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed.