England’s squad for the second Ashes test at Lord’s has been announced, with the most eye-catching inclusion being the presence of World Cup hero Jofra Archer.
With Jimmy Anderson, the leading fast bowling wicket taker of all time, likely to miss much of the series, England will be looking to Archer to step into the talismanic swing bowler’s shoes and shoulder much of the burden of leading England’s attack.
Archer proved in the ODI world cup that he’s a world class bowler, taking 20 wickets and bowling the super over in which England took victory, but test cricket is a different beast entirely.
Whilst ODI bowling is centred around consistency and accuracy, forcing batters who are looking to score quickly into mistakes, test bowling requires greater patience and variation as batter and bowler engage in a five-day game of cat and mouse.
The pitches and balls used in test cricket also play a part in changing the nature of the game in the two formats. Whilst the white Kookabura balls and dead tracks used in ODIs favour express pace and spin, the red Dukes balls and spicy tracks used in English test cricket generally favour swing and seam bowling.
However, should Archer cope with the expectation and continue in the brilliant form he showed at the World Cup, his selection may yet come to be seen as inspired. England have struggled to find genuine express pace bowling since Steve Harmison retired a decade ago. This, along with the lack of a world class spinner, has led to them struggling when pitches deteriorate on days four and five and when the ball gets old, which are conditions less suited to the swing and seam bowling used by most of England’s attack. Archer’s 90mph pace could help to keep pressure on batters in these phases of the game and allow England to maintain a wicket taking threat throughout the match.
Pace bowling is also famously successful in skittling out the opposition’s tailenders, something England have struggled to do in recent years. Australia recovered from 122-8 to 284 all out at Edgbaston, with their final two batsman, Siddle and Lyon, putting on 56 between them and more importantly staying in for 36.4 overs, allowing Smith to work his magic at the other end. England will be hoping that Archer’s inclusion will nip these lower order counter attacks in the bud, and leave Smith stranded having run out of partners if he replicates the form he showed at Edgbaston.
"Archer will need to be firing on all cylinders throughout the series if England are to deny Australia the opportunity to win the Ashes on our shores for the first time since 2001"
Whilst Chris Woakes’ incredible record at Lord’s and Stuart Broad’s love of playing the Aussies takes some of the burden of Anderson’s absence off Archer’s shoulders, he’ll need to be firing on all cylinders throughout the series if England are to deny Australia the opportunity to win the Ashes on our shores for the first time since 2001. For any other test debutant this pressure would surely be too much to bear, but given his World Cup final super over heroics, Archer might just be the man to rise to the occasion.
England’s test squad in full: Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes