Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne believes that the introduction of Jofra Archer into the England pace attack for the second Ashes Test could be key to stopping Steve Smith early into his tracks.
Smith proved to be the scourge of England in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston with the right-hander registering twin tons (144 and 142) to set up a 251-run win for the Aussies. It took the Australian’s Ashes ton tally to 10 and he is now averaging nearly 140 in the last 10 Tests against England.
While England have been left searching for answers on how to dismiss Smith in his current form, Warne believes that Archer’s express pace and mean bounce could be just what they need to do the trick.
Archer is yet to make his Test debut for England with injury concerns keeping him out of the first Test but the Barbados-born pacer is in contention to make his bow at Lord’s in the second Test after proving his fitness in a Sussex second XI clash.
“Steve has been the star of the show so far but now we have Jofra joining his Royals (and England) teammates Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler,” Warne was quoted as saying by AFP.
“Obviously I would love to see Steve go on and score a hundred in every single innings for the rest of the Ashes but with Jofra coming in I think he’ll be set to face his biggest challenge yet and this could make the difference in the upcoming Tests.
“No one likes to face tall 90 mph bowlers.”
Archer played alongside Smith with Rajasthan Royals in the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League and Warne feels that the England pacer can use that stint to his advantage.
“The loss of (James) Anderson was such a blow for England and they will really need Jofra to step up, but I think he has all the attributes to do just that,” he said.
“They (Archer and Smith) will have faced each other a lot in the nets so if anyone will have a plan, it will be Jofra.”
The second Ashes Test between England and Australia at Lord’s is slated to get underway on August 14.
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.