Jofra Archer’s average speed in the 73rd over of Australia’s first innings in second Ashes Test at Lord’s was 92.79 mph. It was the fastest over ever bowled by an English bowler. With pace, precision, late swing and a lethal bouncer, Archer showed all the attributes of a world-class bowler in that devastating spell.
For those who have watched England’s Test cricket in the past decade, Archer’s introduction was quite distinct – fielders instantly closed in around the World’s best Test batsman, Steve Smith. A short leg, leg gully, fine leg all waiting to pounce on an edge from the short ball. This was something unique. not something one would associate with the usual English bowling line-up given the likes of Broad, Anderson and Woakes do not need such a setting with their speeds generally varying around 80 to 85 mph.
But here was the Barbadian-born speedster hurling in deliveries at more than 90 mph effortlessly, turning the batsmen black and blue and giving England a very un-English edge at Lord’s.
11 – England bowlers recorded 12 deliveries where an Australian batsman was struck on the helmet or hit on the body in the 2nd Test at Lord’s; @JofraArcher was responsible for 11 of them. Hostile. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/HI8Rp9SaXg
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) August 19, 2019
Archer had to bide his time, after being left out of the first Test. But such was his impact that England captain Joe Root had to admit that his performance could well have changed the dynamics of the entire series.
“He’s come in and made a massive impact. He’s added a different dynamic to our bowling group and given Australia something different to think about,” Root said after the second Test.
At the end of the game, Archer’s match figures at Lord’s read- 44 overs, 13 maidens, 91 runs and 5 wickets. Not something which will make you sit up and take notice. So how is Archer making all the right noises?
Need for Speed:
Archer’s pace, extra bounce and movement off the pitch has been the key difference so far. To understand this further take a look at this statistic from CricViz which reveals that Archer has hit a batsman’s body/helmet on 19 occasions in his international career so far. Since his debut, no player has managed to hurry the batsmen on as many occasions. The brute pace is the difference.
Archer’s pace, extra bounce and movement off the pitch the key difference so far. He’s found 0.92 degrees seam movement – the most for all seamers in the match. #Ashes https://t.co/qVIDw38tCt pic.twitter.com/piltQg0Cq7
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) August 18, 2019
His average speed on day 5 of the 2nd Ashes Test was- 135.5 kph in 1st Over, 141.7 kph in the 2nd Over, 140.5 kph in the 3rd Over, 142.7 kph in 4th Over and 143.9 kph in the 5th Over. Remember, this was a very slow Lord’s pitch.
He also bowled six deliveries in a row which were above 90mph and then went on to bowl three of the fastest 10 overs on record. But the impact proper pace bowling can have was visible on Saturday, with a ball which may have won the Test for England.
Archer struck Steve Smith, flush under the helmet after he had been at the crease for four hours. It was a blow that ultimately meant Smith had to withdraw from the match with a concussion.
That burst of 7 overs from the debutant, in which he scaled speeds of 96mph, will surely rank among the most hostile spells in recent memory. Australia’s approach to facing Archer was quite simple – duck, dodge, and dive. However, that was always inviting trouble.
With his tail up, Archer welcomed concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne with a hostile spell where a nasty bouncer revived memories of the delivery that felled Smith.
At 91 mph the ball reared up at Labuschagne who did not have the time to lift his bat as the ball smashed into his protective grill.
— Duncan McKenzie-McHarg (@duncanmcmc) August 18, 2019
In yet another spell after lunch on day 5, Archer bowled 16 deliveries in a row that were all over 90mph. Now imagine being the next batsman in, sitting in balcony whilst the bowler is sending down all those thunderbolts.
Archer eventually finished his first-ever Test with figures of 91/5. His fastest delivery in the match recorded a speed of 96.1 mph.
Keeping aside all the excitement about speed, Archer’s debut economy rate of 2.06 is the lowest by an England bowler on Test debut (20 overs minimum) since Angus Fraser went for 2.04 per over in 1989.
When Australia ended their Ashes drought in the summer of 2013-14, it was largely built around the shoulders of Mitchell Johnson who let loose hellfire at the England batsman with a electrifying spell. Now there is a feeling, that Archer could have a similar impact after the Lord’s Test.
It is likely, especially with the visitors losing their talismanic batsman Steve Smith for the rest of the series.
What sets Archer apart from the other English quicks is his unique action and natural pace. There is no one in world cricket who bowls a better disguised bouncer than the 25-year-old presently. His action makes it difficult for batsmen to anticipate as it hardly changes, even when he is putting in the extra effort.
He makes things happen when not many others in the team can and is very different to other options Root has had over the past few years.
Now add the fast bowler to an attack that already includes Anderson, Broad, Woakes and Ben Stokes, and England definitely have a world-class seam attack that can dominate across all forms of the game anywhere in the world and in any condition.
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