'If all Test cricket is like this it's going to be very exciting' - Jofra Archer on Ashes debut
Jofra Archer says that his first taste of Test cricket this summer has whet his appetite for future engagements, after his haul of 22 wickets at 20.27 helped to secure a 2-2 draw in his maiden series against Australia.
Speaking in the wake of England's 135-run win in the fifth Test at The Oval, Archer said that it was too soon for him to take full stock of a whirlwind first season of international cricket, but he admitted that, on balance, his personal highlight would have to be England's World Cup victory at Lord's in July.
However, Archer's displays throughout his four Ashes Tests - which featured six-wicket hauls in each of England's wins at Headingley and The Oval, as well as a series of searingly quick spells, not least to Steven Smith at Lord's - have made him an automatic pick for future engagements.
"I need a few weeks to actually sit back and reflect on what's happened, but from the moment I pulled an England shirt on it's been amazing, from the first game to Sunday," he said.
In the opinion of his team-mate Ben Stokes, Archer's consistent displays make him precisely the sort of spearhead that England will need when they travel to Australia in two years' time in a bid to win back the urn in the 2020-21 Ashes.
"He is no doubt the sort of guy who can help get those Ashes back when we go Down Under," said Stokes. "He's got experience in that part of the world already with the Big Bash and has done pretty well, so he'll feel comfortable going there and performing. When you can bowl 90 miles per hour plus and with the control that he's got then he is going to be a huge threat anywhere in the world."
Asked how the Ashes had compared to his prior expectations of Test cricket, Archer said: "I don't know! I've never played another Test series, so I don't know how the next one will feel … I actually didn't know when the next one was! For me, I take every game like it's a final, an Ashes. It's the same approach, nothing changes.
"I'm still taking it all in. It's my first Test series either way, but if all Test cricket is like this it's going to be very exciting."
Archer, who was born in Barbados but held a British passport, only became available to play for England in March, after the ECB last year changed their residency qualification period from seven years to three.
He made his ODI debut against Pakistan in May, earning himself a late World Cup call-up with consistently hostile displays, and went on to claim 20 wickets at 23.05 in England's triumphant World Cup campaign.
That tournament, of course, culminated in Archer's nerveless Super Over to seal the final at Lord's against New Zealand, and the memories of that achievement still stood out as the dust began to settle on the summer.
"I guess [it has to be] the World Cup," Archer said, when asked to pick his highlight. "But Test cricket and one-day are two different feelings and both of them are very special. I'm over the moon to level the series, and make sure they didn't win it. I can't put it into words, both are very special to me."
One of the highlights of England's Ashes campaign was the threat that Archer and Stuart Broad posed in tandem with the new ball, not least to Australia's left-handers from round the wicket. Between them they accounted for the dangerous David Warner in each of his ten innings - seven for Broad, three for Archer - as he managed a meagre 95 runs in the five Tests.
"It's been good, having pressure from both ends," said Archer. "We bowl similarly, it's pretty intense, the battle to get the left-handers out! It's great, even the other guys who have bowled. It doesn't really matter who opens, everyone has the same goal, everyone just wants to win."
Broad, who claimed 23 wickets in the series, praised Archer's impact and the speed with which he learned the ropes in Test cricket. However, he also warned that expectations should be dampened for future contests, not least because the demands on Archer to lead the line in all formats of the game would be tough.
"He's got incredible attributes," said Broad. "He's got great control and great natural pace. His next challenge is that it won't always be as easy as this. He won't always take wickets as regularly.
"He had one average day at Old Trafford [in the fourth Test] and then all of a sudden he started getting some criticism, so it is important that we don't expect him to be 10 out of 10 every day, because that is physically impossible as a fast bowler. That is why we don't average 10 with the ball.
"He's going to be one of these guys who picks things up very quickly and learns quickly. He's determined and he's going to have a huge amount of success.
"Ten years ago I would have said that he would take 400 Test wickets. Now I'm not sure if he's going to play enough Test cricket to reach those numbers because he is going to be playing all formats.
"He's exciting to play with and some spells have been as fierce as I've been on a field with, but he'll need some managing.
"I don't think we can expect him to be as good as he has been this series every time he plays and bowl as much as he has done every time he plays, but he's a real asset for English cricket."