The Criticism Towards Jofra Archer
Let’s get started by saying that Jofra Archer is better at cricket than you. Jofra Archer is in fact better than most bowlers in international cricket. Still however there are plenty of people that do not seem to see this. Criticism towards Jofra Archer is ripe.
Social media can be a treacherous place at the best of times. But, this seems to be heightened each time Archer sends down a delivery that is not 94 mph. The problem with this comes from numerous different places, places of expectation and reality and places of a more sinister type.
First of all, the concern about Archer not reaching 90 mph with the consistency of a bowler such as Mitchell Starc ignores the very obvious fact that they are completely different bowlers. At no point has Jofra Archer promised to be the sort of bowler who constantly bowls at 90 mph. The real threat that comes from his considerable bowling arsenal is the ability to change pace and use this pace when necessary to change a game. That is where he is lethal.
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Jofra Archer’s Ashes Adventure
The 2019 Ashes Series. The old enemy.
Already in Archer’s short England test career we have seen the full array of skills available to him at any moment. On debut against Australia, he bowled economically at first and then delivered one of the most frightening spells of quick bowling ever seen in test cricket. In the next game at Headingley he once again adapted to the conditions by nibbling the ball around in the corridor and took 6-45.
A quiet game at Old Trafford was followed by another six wicket display At the Oval. This innings was yet again more proof of his ability to mix it up by delivering a series of awkward back of a length lifters to get Mitchell Marsh hooking at fine leg, followed by a slower ball to dismiss Nathon Lyon.
Archer’s introduction changed the course of the Ashes series. He bowled with pace and venom. He went toe to toe with the Australian pacers. No other England bowler could have done so.
Tribulations in New Zealand
In New Zealand, following an all action summer which featured a victorious World-Cup campaign and a long Ashes burst there was an understandable drop off. The pitches in New Zealand were not exactly conducive to fast bowling. Against New Zealand Archer took just 2 wickets. This was expected. What wasn’t expected was the unfair criticism on Jofra Archer.
Injury layoff in South Africa
When England customarily lost the first test of the next series in disappointing fashion, Archer had a slightly bizarre game. He bowled rather poorly but ended up with 5 wickets in the second innings. This is something that fans were eager to look past. As usual, the criticism of Jofra Archer began to emerge.
After this test, Archer saw an injury rule him out for the remainder of the series. This is perhaps not a surprise given the responsibility he shouldered throughout the English summer. He looked overbowled and tired.
Back to England
To the Ageas Bowl then and the visit of the West Indies. In the first innings of yet another first-test-loss, Archer went wicketless but at a decent economy rate. Something which was once again picked apart by his critics. Whilst it was a slightly flat performance, no other bowler looked overly threatening for England.
In the second innings with England defending a meagre total, the game burst into life thanks to Jofra Archer. The West Indies were reduced to 27-3. Again, when the game looked gone at 100-3, Archer produced another gem to dismiss Roston Chase. Without the pace and life that Archer injected into the game, giving England hope, the loss would have been far more gruesome. Instead, the West Indies creeped home.
August saw the return of Pakistan to English shores and with it an exciting match up between the pace attacks of both teams. Archer and Woakes combined to reduce Pakistan to 43 for 2. Again, Archer struck early.
Without wasting a ball Archer had the Pakistan top order in real trouble. After Pakistan recovered with a brilliant hundred from Shan Masood, Archer returned to help clean up the tail as the last five wickets fell for just 45 runs. Eventually, England won the test match. Those crucial runs saved proved to be the difference.
When it was announced that Jofra Archer would be made eligible for England in mid 2019 there were murmurs of excitement around the country. This anticipation could be expected to weigh upon any player’s shoulders. Archer was one of the most electrifying talents from the County Championship, the IPL and the Australian Big Bash League. This, even before delivering a ball in International cricket.
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There is also the more sinister aspect to the level of inspection which Jofra Archer is subject to. People from BAME backgrounds have described having to work harder than others in the same position just for the same recognition.
This is no different in cricket with Moeen Ali being a recent example of how this can affect a person. One bad spell from Jofra Archer is enough to set tongues wagging and most egregiously, keyboards typing. Perhaps the most incriminating evidence of this is the critique of his body language.
Why The Criticism Of Jofra Archer?
People are quick to jump on a clip of Archer losing his temper. Or looking downcast during a disappointing spell. It is easy to focus on these things rather than the jovial character that we see interacting with teammates and bouncing in interviews. The body language of elder statesmen such as James Anderson and Stuart Broad is rarely called into question. This, even if at times it can be downright poor.
This is not a critique of either player as both have given their all to contribute to the English team for over a decade together. It does however highlight the stark inconsistency of the coverage between the two cases.
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We see further proof of the standards to which Archer is held when we look at his record after ten tests compared with some of his contemporaries:
England's pace attack this summer after their first 10 career Tests:
Archer 38 wkts at 29.21
Woakes 34 at 25.58
Anderson 29 at 35.75
Stokes 28 at 40.10
Wood 26 at 40.65
Broad 26 at 45.23
Curran 18 at 30.05
— hypocaust (@_hypocaust) August 9, 2020
As we can see here no-one from this list has more wickets than Jofra Archer and only Woakes has a better average. Not bad for an unfulfilled talent eh? With 30 wickets at home in seven tests at an average of 24 and already one away 5 wicket haul in just three games, it is time to start getting of of Jofra Archer’s back. We know there is enough on those shoulders already! The criticism of Jofra Archer must stop!
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