Archer looks at home being let loose in favourite format
Paceman is noticeably more confident in his role in T20 than Tests, and England captain Morgan is reaping the rewards
It has taken Jofra Archer only eight overs to provide a reminder of what an asset he is to England in white-ball cricket. The two games against Australia have been Archer’s first for England in one-day cricket this year for reasons of injury and limits on swapping biobubbles.
Let loose in his favourite format, Archer has reached top pace immediately, hitting 89mph with his first ball on Sunday, 90mph with his second and a scorching 95.8mph with his seventh. Paired with Mark Wood, England’s average pace in the powerplay was 88mph, dropping below 90 only because Tom Curran bowled the fifth over.
It was only the sixth time England had taken three wickets in the first six overs of a Twenty20 since the last World Cup four years ago. Archer and Wood have emerged as England’s new-ball pairing for the World Cup in India next year. If they can punch a hole through teams in the first four overs, then England can use Adil Rashid more aggressively in the middle overs.
What was impressive about Archer on Sunday was his line. In the three balls he bowled to David Warner, he cramped him for room, culminating in his dismissal. “Oh jeez,” said Warner as the ball cut him in half. It is not about pace, it is about control, and Archer rarely sprays the ball around, even in Test cricket during a long spell.
The powerplay won the game for England. Australia could not recover once they were three down and the way some of them played high pace, particularly Alex Carey, will have been noted for when the teams meet again tonight in the last T20 of the series, when England will be without Sunday’s man of the match, Jos Buttler, who has been allowed a break to see his family.
England will make a decision on Eoin Morgan’s fitness today after he damaged a finger fielding on Sunday. With vice-captain Buttler missing, Moeen Ali will lead England if Morgan is not fit with Joe Denly coming into the side.
Archer relies on yorkers, changes of pace and seam movement, rather than swing. When he combines pace with hitting the seam, like on Sunday, he is a match-winner.
He is noticeably more comfortable in Twenty20 cricket. England are still working out how to use him in Tests. Is he a battering ram or a
(probable) JM Bairstow (Yorks), T Banton (Somerset), DJ Malan (Yorks), EJG Morgan (Middx), SW Billings (Kent), MM Ali (Worcs), TK Curran (Surrey), CJ Jordan (Sussex), AU Rashid (Yorks), JC Archer (Sussex), MA Wood (Durham). (probable) DA Warner, AJ Finch, SPD Smith, GJ Maxwell, MP Stoinis,
AT Carey, AC Agar, PJ Cummins, MA Starc, KW Richardson, A Zampa.
Alex Wharf and Martin Saggers. David Millns.
Light cloud and gentle breeze, 21C.
Australia Umpires Third umpire Weather
patient line-and-length bowler? In Tests this summer there was no “Steve Smith spell” for example. But his pace was only a fraction lower in 2020 (85.59mph) compared to last summer (86.49) and it is easy to forget his best Test bowling performance (six for 45) was against Australia at Headingley, when he bowled line and length.
Archer looks more confident in T20. It is where he made his name bowling for Sussex, Rajasthan Royals and Hobart Hurricanes. He enjoys the format and likes playing for Morgan. He has his mates, Chris Jordan, Rashid and Moeen, with him and appears happier.
Archer took only eight wickets at 45 this summer in Test cricket, and perhaps the elbow injury has left some mental scarring.
Joe Root, the Test captain, is also struggling to gauge when to ask him to “step on the gas” and when to hold back. In Twenty20, Archer can give it everything in the powerplay and then come back at the death with his variations.
He has played only 40 first-class games and 11 of those have been Tests. Tonight will be his 98th T20 match in just four years since making his professional debut. He feels at home, on top of his game and England are reaping the benefit.
Lightning quick: England’s Jofra Archer has had the shackles removed during a series in which he has regularly bowled at 90mph-plus