Jofra Archer, admittedly, hasn’t had the greatest of summers, to say the least. From breaching the biosecure bubble protocol to being accused of “not trying” to bowl fast, Archer has been no stranger to controversy this English summer and perhaps as a result of that, his performances have declined dramatically as well.
Two underwhelming tours to New Zealand and South Africa and an elbow injury before lockdown surely wouldn’t have helped his confidence either.
Many fans have openly expressed their frustration at Archer and his lack of pace and potency this summer and some, with England having intense competition for places within the fast bowling battery, say that England should stop giving him so many chances.
Personally, I think that is wholly unfair.
We must remember that Jofra Archer, before he was selected for the world cup, was a 24 year old franchise player who had very limited red ball experience (he only played 28 red ball games for Sussex at the time).
Selecting him for the world cup was an obvious decision but selecting him for the Ashes was a calculated gamble that proved to pay off. He burst into the test scene with his searing pace and intimidating hostility but that caused sky-high expectations which have probably done more harm than good.
Fans expected him to produce the 90 mph goods every match without taking into consideration that fast bowling doesn’t work like that. Some days you can feel in perfect rhythm and capable of knocking over everyone and other days you can feel the exact opposite.
It’s just part and parcel of the game.
What followed was controversy, injury and scathing criticism as Archer’s lack of experience was beginning to hurt him.
But how can you gain experience without playing matches? It’s not possible! England needs to continue giving Archer chances to play and learn the craft that is test match bowling.
The more experience Jofra Archer gains the more consistent he will become and he will definitely become the best bowler in the world at one point of his career but the way England treat him will be absolutely essential.
Joe Root and the English management need to discover what makes him tick as a person and also as a fast bowler while also discovering what Archer’s best role in the team is.
Far to often have England used Jofra Archer as purely a bouncer bowler which he is so much more than that. He can bowl with relentless skill and accuracy while simultaneously bowling with venom and fire and that is something only the greats of the game have been gifted enough to achieve.
Personally, I think Archer should aim to hit the top of off stump with consistency and pace while hurling down the odd surprise bouncer which, due to his unchanged action when bowling the ball, will be nigh on unplayable.
This is when he is at his absolute best.
However, if England doesn’t continue backing him even after mediocre performances, either his confidence will slowly deteriorate or he will decide to fall for the riches of franchise cricket.
Either way, England would have wasted a player with the potential of becoming the best fast bowler in the world in the near future and that would be a travesty.
In all, I think Jofra Archer is a bowler who has all the resources to become an all-time fast bowling great, due to his once in a generation ability, but it’s up to England management to help him harness his extraordinary talent and giving him the support and backing he needs.
The supporters will have to be very patient but, I assure you, it will be worth it…