Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Jofra Archer and why it’s very simple.
If we think back to the 36 all out one thing was unanimous from that bowling performance. Josh Hazelwood is a very very good bowler. He hit the in between length at a good pace, around the high 80s, got a bit of movement and the batsmen just couldn’t play him. Hazelwood is a simple bowler; taking the new ball, hitting a good length, the occasional bouncer and picking up wickets. When you boil it down Jofra Archer can be that for England and he has been that.
Cast your minds back to a gloomy opening day at Headingley where for a a few hours Archer and Broad where unplayable. Archer wasn’t bowling the 96mph bouncers getting a man out on the hook instead he was being Josh Hazlewood. Jofra hit a good length, a good line and, with some assistance from the conditions, got good movement off the pitch. Archer took 6 for that day and was totally dominant. Archer repeated the display at the Oval a few weeks later and claimed yet another 6 for. This time he did bang it in a bit but he was at his most lethal when the ball was a surprise and it worked as a ball climbed on Mitchell Marsh and invited him to hook.
In between these 2 6 fors Archer got shouted at for wearing a jumper around his waist (and we wonder why people think cricket is a pompous sport), and criticised for not bowling 90 mph. Well the pitch and conditions didn't call for it. It was windy, the pitch wasn't quick and Archer knew the conditions would change over the 5 days to suit him. This was a perfect example of Archer showing his immense nous and know how when it comes to bowling. Now, how Archer communicates this is something he needs to improve on (his comments when England played Pakistan rightfully annoyed a few but they had good meaning behind them) but all evidence suggests Archer is very very smart.
I mean you need any more evidence you can always look at Archer for the One Day side, he uses his great control of line and length to make the batsmen play; throw in a few short ones and hey presto he averages 24.
Archer is an extraordinary bowler and can be one of England's best but for some reason we seem to overcomplicate the matter to a degree which is frankly ridiculous. Oh Jofra needs to bowl 90 mph every delivery aimed either at the batsmens head or his toes. No no Jofra needs to be used in short sharp bursts and only bowl bouncers. On and on the debate rages. But the obvious answer is we need to let Jofra bowl. Archer has the innate ability to control a cricket ball no matter the colour or conditions and he also knows what to bowl and when to bowl it. He isn’t a one trick pony and is actually far from it but he is a marvellous bowler with a set of skills similar to some of the worlds best. Archer can be Hazlewood, Cummins and Starc all mixed into one so why not let him? Why make one of England's best settle for bowling one way all the time. Sure if its a bouncy track in Perth let him dig it in unleash the beast but if it’s a gloomy Trent Bridge why not just let him bowl good line and length and make some of the best look ordinary.
The point i’m trying to make here is, Archer is a weapon and a lethal one but the best of him isn’t banging it in short (which in itself isn’t a good tactic), instead it’s high pace on a good line and length building pressure on the batsmen with an occasional bouncer, if the conditions call for it. Pressure wins you moments, battles, sessions, games and ultimately series so why not use it. Please for the love of God let Jofra hit the top of off with the occasional bouncer let him get 250 test wickets and be one of the best of the next decade and don’t ruin him by drilling him into the ground with Bouncers. India don’t do it with Bumrah, South Africa don’t do it with Rabada, Australia don’t do it with Hazelwood or Cummins and New Zealand don’t do it with Southee because a good test bowler doesn’t do it; a good test bowler adapts.
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