Cricket World Cup 2019: Jofra Archer’s newfound mystery dazzles Australia as Ashes inclusion beckons

The fast bowler inspired England in their semi-final rout to secure a place in the final against New Zealand at Lord’s

Jack Watson
Saturday 13 July 2019 07:46
Eoin Morgan: England players 'living the dream' ahead of World Cup semi-final

Jofra Archer has settled into the England team better than he could have ever expected and is on the verge of playing himself into the Ashes squad as well as the history books.

The England quick added two wickets to his impressive 19 at this year’s tournament and extended his record as England’s highest wicket-taker in a single World Cup with two key scalps during England’s dominant win against Australia to book their place in Sunday’s final against New Zealand.

There is already so much to admire about Archer’s game, his pace, power and sheer determination makes him one of the most feared bowlers in the world, and it’s amazing to think he’s just added to his extraordinary repertoire of talent with the most minimal of fuss.

The Edgbaston crowd found itself double-taking following the raucous applause that rewarded Archer for getting Glenn Maxwell and reducing Australia to 157/6 in the 35th over. Had Archer, beginning his second spell earlier than usual, just stunned the Australian with a slower ball? Jofra Archer, slower ball?

It was the kind of delivery that has taken Archer from a merciless pacer into a more elite-tier bowler. Maxwell was stunned, totally overwhelmed by the delivery as he rather harshly glared at the pitch to suggest there was a rogue bounce to spare himself some embarrassment. In fact, replays showed it was a knuckleball too as Maxwell chipped it to Eoin Morgan at point.

It was no fluke and it was something Archer planned in private, determined to add to his game and make him seem as valuable to his new teammates as possible.

Has there ever been a player to settle so quickly in the international set-up since Kevin Pietersen? Probably not. Pietersen and Archer are similar in the way that they have offered an outside addition to a side on an upward curve, especially in Archer’s case, a sense of something new and extraordinary.

It’s also worth noting that this all took place after Archer trapped Aaron Finch LBW with his very first ball of the game as Australia slumped to 14/3 inside half an hour.

“I could be doing terribly, as long as the team is winning,” he modestly said in the Edgbaston media suite that hangs above the arena where he and England had just belittled one of the best teams in the world.

That one ball to Maxwell, his skill, variation and outright confidence to try something different in a World Cup semi-final will certainly serve him well when Ed Smith and the rest of the England selectors likely thrust him into the Test side despite him only making his England debut in May.

Archer dazzled at Edgbaston

He’s the kind of eye-raising bowler you feel Joe Root wished he could have turned to during previous Test matches where England have been undone by a lack of variation in their bowling attack.

Archer, in typical fashion, brushed off any suggestion that he may have already played his well into England’s red ball side. “I’m just focused on trying to win the final,” he said. When pushed he added: “if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen.”

It is worth remembering that Archer’s inclusion in the squad did not go down brilliantly with everybody, including Chris Woakes, who said it would be unfair if Archer was selected ahead of previous one-day mainstay David Willey.

Jofra Archer celebrates

Woakes took his time to play his way into the tournament, perhaps initially struggling to adapt to the introduction of a new fast bowler in the side, but he’s quickly progressed to one of the form bowlers in the latter stages of the competition, his neatness proving the perfect tonic to Archer’s ferocity.

Along with the brilliant technique and imposing physique, Archer brings a frightening presence to the middle, just ask Alex Carey who required six stitches in his chin after Archer’s bouncer crashed into his helmet. “That’s cricket,” Archer said of the incident. “I don’t think he’s the last person to get hit.”

The one chink in his armour this tournament was a poor spell at Lord’s where he went for 56 with just one wicket to show for it against Australia. “There’s mixed feelings, sometimes I do okay, sometimes I don’t do as good as I like,” he said of his performances at the venue for the final. “Hopefully Sunday it goes England’s way, not just my way.”

Archer sees the funny side after fielding vs Australia

Over the last year, Archer has played his way into the England side, helped them to their first World Cup final in a generation and is potentially on the cusp of a first Test cap; in his words: “whatever happens it’s something to look forward to.”

This summer we may well begin to know Archer as a World Cup winner and a successful England Test bowler, while Australia and any opponent that faces him will have to live with having no clue what comes next.

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