Jofra Archer - England-d'X-Factor > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Jofra Archer - England's X-Factor
The talk was that Jofra Archer could disrupt the team dynamic. Maybe they meant South Africa's.
The man himself said he fancied seeing how he went against Virat Kohli this World Cup, having not gone up against him much in the IPL. Perhaps in the mean time, until England vs India on June 30th, bumping another IPL gun in Faf du Plessis will do.
South Africa's bowlers closed out the England innings with a variety of leg- and off-cutters constituting more than half of their deliveries in the final 10 overs. In this period, they conceded just 76 runs and took four wickets and consequently, the thought was, even with the new ball, one needed to be cunning. The pitch was one of those that do England dirty - i.e. not flat - and when you've got Kagiso Rabada rolling his fingers across the seam, you take the hint. Or, if you're Jofra Archer, you can just average 89mph in your opening spell.
Maybe one day, when he goes grey (though he probably won't) and we look back on his career, the characteristic we'll highlight will be his ability to just shut out the noise. To read some headlines about why he may not be welcome in the dressing room but still saunter in there anyway. To talk about showing the India captain and take out the South African one while you wait. To see a fast bowling great-in-waiting with more than three years of international cricket on you and think, "Nah, I'll do it my way."
That's a discussion for later because that kind of cod philosophy needs more time to marinate. Instead, let's concentrate on what's right in front of us: a game-changing quick, the likes of which England have never had.
Not to say they haven't had Englishmen who clocked consistently over 90mph or hit a back of a length as hard. But certainly not one who can do both. And the best example of this was a moment that did not result in a wicket but might just have turned the game England's way.
The target of 312 was perfectly attainable, especially if Quinton de Kock sped away and Hashim Amla did as he does, taking the scenic route to victory. However, with the penultimate ball of the fourth over, Archer dug took Amla off-road with a bouncer.
Well, you only knew it was a bouncer when it reached the Amla and, judging by the way the veteran batsman played it, so did he. From the hand, the 36-year old had 0.47 seconds to react. That's about 0.07 seconds longer than it takes to blink. Amla does not even get into position for a shot, wearing the ball on the part of the helmet grille covering his left temple. Some say the ball was 90 mph. Others say 92. But really, it wasn't about the pace.
For any other bowler, Amla was probably about right. He wanted to get forward but knew he shouldn't. Given he relies little on a second-movement of the feet but merely transferring to the back foot with a boxer-like sway, there were probably no alarm bells. But with Archer generating all of his pace at the crease because of his perfectly braced front leg, while losing little pace off the pitch because of his high action, his bouncers are not like many others.
There's no grunt. There's no extra bending of the back. He doesn't run in harder - he doesn't run, full stop - and nor does he play the game by numbers. And crucially, he doesn't wang the ball down in his half. His bouncers come not too far from where the edges do. Just ask Aiden Markram, who guided one of these to Joe Root at first slip, moments after Amla had to be helped off the field. Or perhaps Faf, who met his demise hooking in an uncontrolled manner to Moeen Ali at deep square leg for the second.
Ben Stokes, man of the match himself with 89, two for 37 and a catch to tell your kids about, observed that the opposition top four, usually so measured, "came out playing a shot a ball". He went on: "I'm not sure if that's because of Jofra's pace which got their beans going."
Of course, when Amla returned, he was greeted by another Archer short ball after the 24-year old had picked up his third wicket, getting out a well-set Rassie van der Dussen with - yep, you guessed it - a misread bumper.
"It will take time for international batters to get used to his action," said Faf at the post-match press conference. He's a little bit nippier when he hits the crease and that's why he is such an X-factor bowler. He broke through our opening three there, and that pretty much was always going to be a tough ask from there.
"He bowls slower ball, slower ball, 80-percent ball, 80 percent ball and then a quick bouncer. When he bowls that short one, it is a bit quicker than his other balls, and the guys will get to understand that action better.
It's probably best to give Archer the final say. Or rather, the Archer of six years ago.
"All batsmen buy 2 helmets cause went we meet they will be in use" he tweeted back in 2013.
Batsmen might not see Archer's bouncer coming. But you can't say you weren't warned.
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