Updated: Mar 20
There are few sights as absorbing and as mesmeric as a fast bowler in the zone delivering one of "those" spells which cause even the very best batsmen to hop about as if they've just trodden on several pieces of red hot Lego whilst fending off a heat seeking missile. Frequently during my time watching it has been English batsmen skipping and jumping as they try and deal with the barrage but in August 2019 the boot was on the other foot. No less a batsman than Steve Smith was discomfited by a blistering spell from Jofra Archer, first being hit on the arm then, famously, being felled by a vicious bouncer; mercifully, Smith wasn't hurt and was later able to continue in a brave gesture of defiance.
This passage of play is probably one that sticks out in most supporters' minds as Archer touched 96mph and a full house was spellbound. That Ashes series Archer scooped 22 wickets at 20 apiece (he has 42 wickets at 31 overall) and excited the nation. This was 2019, he had already nervelessly delivered the Super Over the previous month and had charmed and thrilled cricket fans across England; a genuinely quick bowler to augment our attack and who could help deliver victories home and away. Since the summer of '19 he has suffered with a persistent elbow injury which has kept him out of a handful of Tests; with a World T20 on the horizon, Eoin Morgan will no doubt want Archer at 100% fitness - his prowess in limited overs cricket, both internationally and franchise is well known - as 30 ODI wickets at 24 apiece can show, he is a valuable asset and must be treated accordingly. England's rotation policy has been talked about at length this winter - so I shan't bore you by rehashing the arguments - but a case must be made for Archer to enjoy a relatively light Test workload this summer with two reasons to support the argument.
Firstly, we need to take care of his elbow and over bowling him will be sure to exacerbate the problem; if his Test appearances are rationed this will ensure he is at full tilt when he does play which must surely be more preferable to a half fit Archer playing every game. Secondly, England are targeting a World T20 and Ashes win double and Archer will play a key role in targeting both prizes. He is an excellent T20 bowler, is experienced in Indian conditions and is a lock in the T20i team; England's hopes of winning another World T20 would be vastly diminished without him. The Test team have been crying out for X-factor pacemen on flat overseas wickets for some time and Archer can be one of a key triumvirate with Stone and Wood in Australia as we look to regain the urn. A fit and energised Archer in Australia will be a serious player; we look after Archer to ensure we do the right things at the right times for the right reasons.
Written by @d_ktalkballs