Eng­land need Archer to crank up the pace and re­gain X-fac­tor sta­tus

Pres­sure on bowler to add fire to at­tack against Pak­istan Hosts look to Cur­ran with An­der­son likely to miss out

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket - By Nick Hoult

The Ageas Bowl was the scene of Jofra Archer’s fastest spell this sum­mer, and he re­turns there for the sec­ond Test this week with Eng­land want­ing a re­peat per­for­mance.

Archer has made lit­tle progress in Test cricket this sum­mer and Eng­land need to see more pace from a bowler picked to be their Xfac­tor quick. The 25-year-old let him­self down by leav­ing the biobub­ble to go home last month, forc­ing him­self into self-iso­la­tion and out of the sec­ond Test against West Indies.

Since then he has strug­gled to ramp up the pace, tak­ing five wick­ets in two Tests, a to­tal in­flated by tail-end wick­ets in the first in­nings against Pak­istan.

Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root has al­ways stressed that Archer is young and learn­ing the game. It has be­come ap­par­ent this sum­mer that he is still work­ing out his method at Test level, and he ad­mit­ted he was still a lit­tle con­cerned about the se­ri­ous el­bow in­jury that cur­tailed his win­ter.

Archer has only re­ally cranked up the pace once, when he bowled to Jer­maine Black­wood in the sec­ond in­nings of the de­feat in the first Test by West Indies at the Ageas

Bowl last month. He took three for 45, with his pace unsettling the West Indies lower or­der.

Even though Black­wood saw his side to vic­tory, Eng­land ex­ploited West Indies’ weak­ness against the short ball for the rest of the se­ries. Un­for­tu­nately, they had to do it without Archer in the sec­ond Test when Ben Stokes stepped up to bowl bumpers and in­jured a thigh in the process.

It seems to help Archer to pick a fight with a bats­man on the field. His quick­est spells for Eng­land have been against Steve Smith at Lord’s, Matthew Wade at the Oval and Black­wood in Southamp­ton. Tem­pers did fray on Satur­day in Manch­ester, so Archer may feel fired up for the sec­ond Test, which starts on Thurs­day.

Archer felt the pitch for the first Test last week was not one to “bend my back on”, sug­gest­ing he was con­cerned about over­do­ing it on what he saw as un­re­spon­sive sur­faces. But there was plenty of carry in Manch­ester, which was ex­ploited by Naseem Shah and Sha­heen Afridi, and Eng­land have picked him to bowl fast, not to be an­other right-arm fast-medium seamer.

With Mark Wood car­ry­ing an in­jury and telling Eng­land he is un­likely to make it through the next Test, Archer will have an­other chance this week.

It would be use­ful for Root to hand him the new ball along­side Stuart Broad, to give him a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and a clear mes­sage that he is seen as Eng­land’s strike bowler. But it ap­pears likely that Chris Woakes will open the bowl­ing in­stead.

Root has strug­gled to han­dle Archer prop­erly, veer­ing from over­bowl­ing him be­fore Christ­mas

to un­der­bowl­ing him at times this sum­mer. Archer re­sponded well to Stokes’s lead­er­ship in Southamp­ton when he stepped in for Root.

Stokes asked Archer to bowl quickly as Eng­land chased wick­ets in vain to win. If Archer can this week re­peat his bowl­ing to Black­wood, it would give Eng­land a point of dif­fer­ence they lacked in Manch­ester.

Sam Cur­ran looks likely to re­place James An­der­son, who needs a rest and wants to work on a few tech­ni­cal is­sues as he re­cov­ers from a poor per­for­mance, in his view, in Manch­ester.

Cur­ran length­ens the bat­ting line-up, cru­cial in the ab­sence of Stokes. Zak Craw­ley should come in at No 3, hav­ing been left out of the past two matches only on tac­ti­cal grounds to ac­com­mo­date the ex­tra bowler be­cause of Stokes’s in­jury.

It al­lows Root to move back to four. Jos But­tler will stay at six and step up as vice-cap­tain, em­bold­ened by his match-win­ning bat­ting in Manch­ester. Dan Lawrence, the Es­sex bats­man, left the Eng­land bub­ble af­ter the first Test to at­tend a fam­ily fu­neral and is not in con­sid­er­a­tion.

Jack Leach is likely to play only if Eng­land think the pitch is espe­cially dry and war­rants two spin­ners. Leach has not played a Test since Novem­ber as Dom Bess has dis­lodged him as the No 1 choice.

But Bess has taken seven wick­ets at 47 in four Tests this sum­mer and is strug­gling to pro­vide Root with con­trol, con­ced­ing runs at 3.31 an over. The pre­pon­der­ance of righthande­rs in the Pak­istan top or­der, with opener Shan Ma­sood the only leftie, should bring Leach into the game more as a left-armer who spins the ball away from the righthande­r’s out­side edge, but Eng­land want Bess to gain ex­pe­ri­ence.

Slow­ing down: Jofra Archer has shown only glimpses of the pace that made him such a threat on his Test de­but

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