The Importance of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood to England Cricket

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood celebrate after winning the test series 3-1 in South Africa in 2019/20

Jofra Archer & Mark Wood – England’s Future?

“Archer has come up trumps!” Those were the exact words blurted by a desolate Ian Smith, after Jofra Archer had just won the Cricket World Cup for England in 2019, after a thrilling super over. In fairness both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood had been superb for England in the tournament.

Both have already proven their mettle in the ODI format and are beginning to shine in test cricket as well. But, with Jimmy Anderson enjoy a late renaissance and Stuart Broad 34 years of age, it is evident that England will need new leaders soon.

Could Jofra Archer and Mark Wood be the leaders that England require from within their bowling attack, in test match cricket?

Tour of India 2020/21

England cricketers James Anderson (L), Kevin Pietersen (C), and Ian Bell celebrate the wicket of unseen India ‘A’ batsman Abhinav Mukund on the final day of a three day practice match between India ‘A’ and England at The Cricket Club of India (CCI) ground in Mumbai on November 1, 2012. The England cricket team, who are to play a four Test series against India from November 15, are playing three practice matches before the start of the test series. AFP PHOTO/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 2016 tour to India, England were thrashed. They lost 4-0 on pitches that did not suit their style of bowling. England’s fast bowlers in particular struggled because the pitches were bone-dry and very flat – offering little movement off the pitch or in the air.

Only Stuart Broad had respectable bowling figures among the pacers. He picked up 8 wickets in three matches at a bowling average of 31. Respectable yes, but far from match-winning. James Anderson picked up just 4 wickets in three games. The spinners are expected to do a lot of the work in Asia, but the fast bowlers must back them up adequately.

Also, Read – Top 5 Most Test Match Wickets For England

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, therefore are crucial to England’s success in Asia in their next tour in early 2021. They both provide genuine pace and can rattle Indian batsmen, even on slow pitches. Archer is also good enough to change his style of bowling. He can pitch the ball up and move it at the start of the innings, before reverting back to his more aggressive nature.

The pair might not run through India, but they can help build pressure for the spinners. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood can achieve this by nipping out early scalps and then returning when the ball is reversing or to bowl short but aggressive spells. It might not lead to a series win in India straight away, but such could lead to England becoming much more competitive.

2021/22 Ashes Series Down Under 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 08: Stuart Broad; Alastair Cook and Jonny Bairstow of England look on during the presentation during day five of the Fifth Test match in the 2017/18 Ashes Series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Again, a similar issue to what England faced in India. In the 2017/18 Ashes Series, England lost 4-0 in Australia. James Anderson had a very good series – picking up 17 wickets at 28. However, the 2021/22 Ashes series is almost 18 months away. It seems unlikely that James Anderson will play in that series.

None of the other English bowlers performed well on that tour. This is because they didn’t have the pace to make use of conditions in Australia. Unlike India, the ball does move in Australia. However, the Kookaburra stops moving after 15-20 overs. Therefore, England may well use Stuart Broad, but will need genuine pace bowlers to pick up regular wickets post the new ball.

Watch – Jimmy Anderson’s first five-wicket haul in Australia at Adelaide 2017/18

Stuart Broad is not a new-ball bowler, but he does not have the pace to consistently run through sides on batting tracks, when the ball and the pitch offers little. In step Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.

Both could be critical to England doing well in Australia. If England need an example to realise how strong pace is in Australia, they need not look further than their own camp. Chris Tremlett had a great test series in Australia in 2010/11 and helped England to victory.

In step Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. Together with Stuart Broad, they could combine to become a strong pace attack in Australia. The trio offer the ability to move the ball, bowl economically and bowl upwards of 90 miles per hour.

The near-perfect combination of skills. As long as Dominic Bess continues to progress in the spin department, the bowling should be much more suited to Australian conditions than in 2017/18.

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood can make the difference for England.

Becoming A Top Tier Test Side

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will need to carry England's bowling attack in the future
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 05: Jofra Archer of England celebrates with Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes after taking the wicket of Abid Ali of Pakistan during Day One of the 1st #RaiseTheBat Test Match between England and Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford on August 05, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images for ECB)

If England want to compete in all conditions, including playing at home, then they must possess an attack with variety. Sometimes at home, they can get caught out as well, playing a one dimensional attack. Take Headingley 2017 for example. A track that flattened out. Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite led the West Indies to a famous victory.

Watch – Yasir Shah LBW bowled Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood offer a different dimension to the attack. England will probably play only one at home. At the moment it feels as if Jofra Archer has the nod over Mark Wood. With Stuart Broad, they can form a superb attack.

Ben Stokes is their all-rounder who can bowl aggressively or attempt to move the ball. These two combined with raw pace and experienced spin can help England continue to be a force in the years to come.

Post Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad and James Anderson have taken the most wickets in test matches for England Cricket as of 2020.
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND – AUGUST 20 : Stuart Broad and James Anderson of England talk during the third day of the 3rd Specsavers Test Match between England and India at Trent Bridge on August 20, 2018 in Nottingham England. (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad have taken the second most test wickets as a pairing. They are only behind Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. They have carried England for over a decade. Eventually, both will have to be replaced. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood must be experienced enough by then to lead the England attack.

This is because England have not found any other leaders in their test attack as of yet. Sam Curran and Chris Woakes have supported the team really well and even blown sides away in England. But that does not work all the time, especially overseas. Neither are first pick bowlers outside of England.

Also, Read – Top 5 Pakistan Players To Watch Out For

Once Anderson and Broad retire, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will likely have to take over the mantle. As a result, England could change the style of their attack. Pace might be the main choice of weapon, with either of Curran or Woakes completing the attack with seam and swing movement. Ollie Robinson at Sussex also looks a good prospect.

Jofra Archer & Mark Wood Reduce The Tail

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Jofra Archer of England hits out during Day Three of the 1st #RaiseTheBat Test Match between England and Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford on August 07, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both have batting ability. It is likely that they will need to continue working hard in training to get the best out of themselves. Archer has recently shown some more glimpses of his batting, having wasted opportunities at the start of his career. His test average of under 9 is a far cry from his first-class average of nearly 25.

Even though there is a big step up, he is good enough to average at least 15 in test match cricket. Archer scored 27 in just 12 balls against KKR in the 2019 IPL. He most certainly has the ability. Sometimes he plays rash shots and he needs to reign himself in when batting.

Also, Read – The debate between Jos Buttler and Ben Foakes

Mark Wood averages 18 with the bat in test cricket. He has done very well so far to score nearly 400 runs, including a half-century. If Jofra Archer can improve his batting and Mark Wood continues his form, than England could potentially have a very small or non-existent tail in test match cricket.

Especially while playing in England, this could be very useful in low scoring-encounters. Both are likely to be first pick bowlers very soon. Therefore, England can happily pick them, without worrying about their tail being blown away.

Summary – Jofra Archer & Mark Wood 

England’s Bowling attack for the future depends on these two individuals, especially in test match cricket. In limited overs, they have already won the nation the biggest prize of them all.

Can they help England become the number one test match team as well?

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