Jofra Archer’s sensational duel with Steve Smith on Day Four of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s had the entire cricket world stand up to take notice and the West Indies born pacer was at it again on the final day in one of the most hostile spells of red-ball bowling.
The right-arm fast bowler’s nasty bouncer to Smith meant that the Australia batsman did not take the field on Sunday due to a concussion and Archer did an encore by almost knocking out Marnus Labuschagne in similar style.
His ferocious display of short-pitched bowling on day five at Lord’s was the highlight of the day with the England pacer showing he is here to stay in the Test format.
Australia held on for the draw in the end but Archer’s remarkable debut will be talked about for some time. Here, we take a closer look at his performance in Australia’s second innings.
Runs conceded: 32
Archer shared the new-ball responsibilities with Stuart Broad and wasted no time in making an instant impact for the hosts. The England pacer ended David Warner’s misery at the crease by finding a sharp edge off the left-hander’s bat before adding a second wicket to his name with the very next over by having Usman Khawaja caught behind by Jonny Bairstow.
The fast bowler returned in the final hour as England made a desperate push for victory and added the scalp of Australia skipper Tim Paine after Joe Denly pulled off a blinder of a catch.
While he had taken his time to get going in the first innings of his debut Test, Archer looked completely at home in the format by the time he was bowling on Sunday.
The 24-year-old’s natural movement away from the left-handers was what helped him knock off Warner and Khawaja in quick succession in what was a terrific first spell by Archer.
Archer made excellent use of the Lord’s slope to move the ball both ways. He bowled against the slope in his first spell and got the ball to move away from left-handers while generating the opposite movement while bowling with the slope in his second spell.
His pace constantly hovered around the 145-150kmph mark but it was the unrelenting intensity that impressed most about his bowling on Sunday. Joe Root leaned heavily on Archer during the first 20 overs of Australia’s innings and the pacer went full throttle throughout that period with barely any break in his spells.
His second spell was a masterpiece on its own without fetching any wickets and he constantly made Marnus Labuschagne hop and jump with some mean bouncers directed towards the body.
Steve Smith’s concussion replacement was given a warm welcome by Jofra Archer 😳— Jay Taylor (@JayTaylorMedia1) August 18, 2019
Archer’s short of a length bowling at express pace was menacing throughout for the Aussie batsmen but the pacer perhaps missed a trick by not going full more often. While he served up plenty of chin music for the visitors, Archer could have used his trademark yorker as a surprise element.
VERDICT – 9/10
Archer’s introduction couldn’t have been any more impressive with the Barbados-born pacer changing the complexion of the series. His engrossing battle on Day Four with Smith will go down as one of the best ever and the manner in which he tested arguably the best batsman in the world will make plenty of Aussie batsmen worried for the remainder of the series.
It is hard to believe that Archer is a red-ball rookie but his electric debut performance will make England believe that not only can they come back to level the series, but that they can even harbor ambitions of regaining the urn in the remaining three Tests.
The cricket world might just have to start getting used to the sight of Archer knock batsmen down to the ground with his brutal style of bowling and he looks destined to have a top Test career for England.
Justin Langer had expressed his reservations about Archer’s ability to make the red-ball step up but the England pacer has not only made the Aussie coach eat his words, he will also be giving him plenty of sleepless nights heading up to the Leeds Test.
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