Ben Stokes backs Jofra Archer to help England regain Ashes in Australia

The Guardian

The Guardian

Author 2019-09-16 21:26:01

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Ben Stokes believes Jofra Archer to be the most talented fast bowler he has seen and one who can help regain the Ashes in Australia, with England now set to lock down this summer’s breakout star with his first central contract.

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Ashley Giles, the director of England cricket, will announce a new batch of player deals for 2019-20 at Lord’s on Friday and Archer, key to the World Cup win and so electric in his first four Tests, is down for top-tier terms in both red- and white-ball cricket.

The 24-year-old, who took 22 wickets in the 2-2 Ashes draw and whipped up breathtaking 96mph speeds, will be among a select group whose combined annual England earnings are expected to top £1m as the sport’s new five-year £1.1bn TV deal kicks in. For Stokes, another to sit in this elite bracket, Archer is worth it.

England’s Test vice-captain said: “I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented bowler in my time. It’s great to have him on your team. No doubt he is the sort of guy who can help get those Ashes back when we go down under [in 2021-22]. He’s got experience in that part of the world from playing in the Big Bash too, so he’ll feel comfortable going there and performing.

“When you can bowl 90mph and with the control that he’s got, then he is going to be a huge threat anywhere in the world.”

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Stokes compared Archer to Australia’s Pat Cummins, who consolidated his place as the No 1-ranked Test bowler with 29 victims in the series. But beyond the potent combination of pace and accuracy, it is the newcomer’s attitude that has impressed so many in the England set-up.

“It is very rare for a 24-year-old to be able to come in, be exposed to this environment and then step up and improve game by game as quickly as Jof is doing it,” added Stokes. “There is plenty more to come from him because he is so skilful and picks things up so quickly.”

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Archer will now be due a break and is planning to visit family in Barbados. His next England assignment is the New Zealand tour that departs in late October, although there are thoughts of extending the rest period for the multi-format players into the five-match Twenty20 series before returning to full strength for the two Tests that follow.

The selectors and the Test captain, Joe Root, convene at the start of next week, with Giles expected to take a seat on the panel in a temporary capacity while the search for a new head coach is stepped up. Stokes, who struck up a strong bond with the now departed Trevor Bayliss, appears wary of change.

The all-rounder, speaking after England’s 185-run win at the Oval, said: “I’m not sure I’m looking forward to life without Trevor in the dressing room because he’s been an amazing person to have around over the last four years.

“He obviously got brought in to do a job with our one-day cricket but he’s had a massive influence on this group of Test cricketers too. I’m glad that we managed to win this last game for him. There were a lot of things that we were playing for out there: Trev was one of them.”

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Giles must decide whether to seek continuity in the set-up by promoting either Graham Thorpe or Chris Silverwood – the respective batting and bowling coaches are expected to apply – or look for an external candidate who plots a new course in Test cricket.

Though next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia is high on the list of priorities, the white-ball side will be a secondary consideration as regards the new head coach; not least since Eoin Morgan, its all-powerful captain, is expected to recommit to his role and be among the list of central contracts for the next 12 months.

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Like Root, Stokes left the Oval believing a workable formula for the Test side had been stumbled upon, even if this owed much to his own role as a specialist batsman following a shoulder injury. He praised Rory Burns and Joe Denly for their work at the top of the order, while Stuart Broad’s 23-wicket series was another success.

On the 33-year-old, Stokes said: “I think he’s shown here that he’s nowhere near done. He has been heroic and we’ve all been impressed by his skill. The fact their opening partnership has gone nowhere is largely down to Broady.”

The last point was not lost on Justin Langer, Australia’s head coach, who backed David Warner to hold his place in the Test side for their home summer series against Pakistan and New Zealand despite scoring only 95 runs from 10 innings – a record low by an opener in one series – and falling to Broad seven times.

Langer said: “I think, talking frankly, he let Stuart Broad get into his head and he thought way too much about it. He’ll probably be very relieved when he gets on the flight and doesn’t have to face him for a while.”


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