Jofra Archer took England and world cricket by storm within months of his arrival on the international scene. His progress was fast-tracked by England Cricket Board (ECB) which ensured Archer played the ODI World Cup for England in 2019. Archer soon made his Test debut in the Ashes series and his spell to Steve Smith was the stuff of legend. Here India vs England 3rd Test on February 24.
It was widely expected that Archer will be the Test spearhead too. But Archer has for different reasons spent more time away from Test cricket than in it.
Why hasn’t Archer featured regularly in Test cricket?
World cricket has been richer with the emergence of Fab-4 in the bowling department too. The quartet of Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah, and Jofra Archer have reignited faith in pace bowling. But Archer unlike others in the pace quartet is yet to assume the mantle of being the Test pace spearhead. James Anderson still is the numero uno Test bowler for England.
The reason why Archer hasn’t yet stepped up as the spearhead is owing to his lack of consistent showing in Test matches. He has played just 12 Tests since his debut. Archer has been for multiple reasons not given a consistent reason. Once he was dropped from the team owing to a bio-bubble breach but never has he been dropped on form in these 2 years.
Archer in fact played 7 consecutive Tests since his debut up until he suffered from an injury while playing against South Africa. He missed the second Test against India owing to a suspected elbow injury. Apart from injuries, Archer has been rested for 4 of the last 6 Tests played by England thanks to their rest and rotation policy. Archer smarting from injury believes that this rotation policy helps bowlers of his kind.
Can Jofra Archer then be allowed to play more India vs England Test matches consistently?
It is a famous saying that fast bowlers get better only by playing more matches and sending down more deliveries. It is true even in the case of James Anderson who became an English great only post-2008 when he was given a consistent run of matches. Anderson was able to up-skill himself and constantly kept reinventing himself to emerge as a fair bowling legend.
Archer can take a cue from Anderson’s book and look to unleash himself on the Test arena. For Archer has the skill, he has the flair, to add to it, he is a natural athlete as well. It’s time he put on his bowling shoes and imposed himself as a top Test bowler.