It was a brutal sight. One of the best Test batsmen in the world at present, Steve Smith, was lying on the pitch; shaken and stirred. He had been hit on the back of his neck by a vicious bouncer from Jofra Archer in the 2nd Test of the ongoing Ashes 2019 series.
Archer, who made his debut in the 2nd Test, ended up injuring Smith so bad that he was concussed and could not bat in the second innings of the match. And by the end of the match, which ended in a draw, Archer had bruised and shaken almost all the Australian batsmen. Archer ended the Test with figures of 5-91 in 44 overs. In a debut Test, this was as memorable a performance as any.
What impressed everyone was Archer’s ability to bowl at furious pace – consistently above 90 m/ph – and yet have tremendous control. He bowled with venom, produced vicious bouncers and was almost always on the money with his lengths.Embed from Getty Images
It goes without saying that such a performance has caught the notice of world cricket. After all, a truly genuine fast bowler who ambles to the crease, bowls with control, produces brutal bouncers and takes crucial wickets is a sight that isn’t so common these days in international cricket. And hence there is a great buzz around Jofra Archer. He might be the next big pace sensation world cricket was looking for.
The English team is certainly chuffed at having Archer in their ranks.
“He’s a frightening talent and he’s announced himself on the world stage, just in a different format again this year. Literally the sky is the limit for him and he’s a great addition to our Test team,” said Archer’s teammate Ben Stokes to the press after the 2nd Test.
This has really been the season of Jofra Archer. He first impressed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 with a terrific performance for the Rajasthan Royals; his yorkers, especially, became the talk of the season.
Then, after almost not making it to the final squad, Archer became instrumental in England’s victorious World Cup 2019 campaign. Archer ended the tournament as the third-highest wicket-taker with 20 wickets in 11 matches at an average of 23.05. He bowled with fire, took wickets consistently and was the team’s Man Friday; always bailed them out in difficult situations.
Archer became the toast of the nation after his World Cup performance. And now, with what he achieved in his maiden Test, Archer’s graph has shot up substantially.Embed from Getty Images
It will be interesting to see how Archer goes in the remainder of the Ashes 2019 Test series. We might need another 10 Tests and 30-odd ODIs to truly see where Archer is headed. But the initial signs are good. Jofra Archer looks like the real deal. And one who is all set for the long haul.
The only thing that England must ensure is Archer’s workload. He is playing all the formats now and the burden of expectations on hi is only going to get heavier. Hence, it is crucial that the team management uses him astutely and gives him proper rest to make sure he lasts longer and maintains his zip.
A talent like Jofra Archer is rare. And he has all the ingredients to be the next pace fast bowling superstar.