It’s been a truly memorable year for English cricket. While the heroics of Ben Stokes helped him bag the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, there is little doubting the fact that Jofra Archer has played an outstanding supporting role.
The 24-year old cricketer captured the public’s imagination due to his dominant bowling in the Cricket World Cup and the summer’s Ashes series. But with a relatively uninspiring record in the recent Test matches against New Zealand, there have been questions about Archer’s England future.
England’s forthcoming four-Test series against South Africa could, therefore, give the fast bowler the perfect opportunity to answer his critics. But is Jofra Archer physically and mentally well enough to cope with the pressures of this cricketing showdown?
Archer’s Fitness For The South Africa Test Matches
England will kick off their Test match campaign against South Africa in Gauteng on Boxing Day. Many bookmakers have England at 5/4 for the win at the most reliable options for betting on cricket. But much of this optimism is based on the hopes that Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad will be match-fit for the opening game.
Both of the pace bowlers have been struck down with a nasty flu bug and have been absent from England’s pre-test preparations. As a result, England’s coaches have requested that Archer and Broad be honest about their fitness for the Boxing Day match.
It’s thought that Broad may get the nod ahead of Archer for this game, as Broad will have more experience in evaluating whether he has recovered enough from the illness to be able to withstand the rigors of bowling at least 20 overs a day across a five-day Test match. It’s also expected to be very hot and humid during the opening match, which could significantly affect the players’ recoveries.
Overcoming A Nightmare In New Zealand
Jofra Archer went into the two-Test series against New Zealand on a real high. Not only did he enjoy bowling the Super Over in England’s Cricket World Cup win, but he also performed admirably in the Ashes and even managed to stop Steve Smith in his tracks. However, things were anything but plain-sailing for Archer when he arrived in New Zealand.
The young bowler only managed to get two wickets in 82 overs spread across two games against New Zealand. That contrasted with his excellent record of 22 wickets in four Ashes Tests. Much of this record got settled because of the batting-friendly circumstances in New Zealand. But there were also suspicions that it may have been too much, too soon for the 24-year old.
Archer also had to put up with some horrendous racist abuse during the first Test at the Bay Oval against New Zealand. Although he acted maturely by calling out the offending spectator, it still created headlines for Archer for all the wrong reasons, and he will be desperate to put this sorry episode behind him.
Why Jofra Archer’s Temperament Should See Him Through
Ultimately Jofra Archer is widely expected to shake off his recent troubles and get back to what he does best – enjoying some brutally fast and accurate bowling. Recently we have seen Archer’s Twitter activity showing that he manages to handle his detractors with plenty of wits, and it’s this strength of character that should see him making his England comeback in style.
Obviously, South Africa’s batsmen will provide Archer with plenty of spirited opposition. Stars like Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar have the skill and experience necessary to keep Archer contained for a short time. But when Archer manages to get in his element, he could prove to be devastating in South Africa.