X-Factor Archer brings buzz to England’s Test team

X-Factor Archer brings buzz to England’s Test team

Jofra Archer (picture via YouTube, with thanks)

A ‘buzz’ is difficult to pin down but one can always sense or feel a buzz. Elvis probably generated a buzz, Lionel Messi does and now the England Test team have their own buzz-creator: Jofra Archer. 

Archer is the most talked-about cricketer in the world this summer and with good reason. On Thursday at Headingley, he gave another demonstration of why he is arguably the most exciting talent in the sport.

The Sussex seamer – playfully compared to God by multiple people on Twitter – is playing in just his second Test. 

He is though, already producing levels of excitement not seen in English Test cricket since Andrew Flintoff in his pomp in the 2005 Ashes.

Archer’s qualification for England was fast-tracked so he could play at the World Cup,. He was then one of the stars as England won that World Cup, and was drafted in to the second Ashes Test in a bid to turn the series around. That’s the backstory. 

The sheer weight of expectation on the Barbados-born 24-year-old is now quite staggering. Even skipper Joe Root suggested that his impact had turned Ashes momentum England’s way after a scintillating debut in the draw at Lord’s – in which he struck Steve Smith with a searing bouncer, ruling him out of the remainder of the match and the third Test. 

His frightening pace lit up that match, it brought an energy to an England side who were under pressure after a humbling loss at Edgbaston and his aggression appeared to rattle the Australian batsmen. 

What it has resulted in is a fervour every time he is in the action. He shared the new ball at Headingley to a ripple of cheers, chatter and whooping from the crowd. 

Under cloudy skies he hooped the ball around at express pace, removing Marcus Harris early doors on a stop-start morning due to rain and bad light. 

Every time he started again after a delay, the ripple of excitement returned. 

When David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne began taking runs with ease off the bowling of Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes, there was a quiet air about the stadium. Australia had taken control. 

But as soon as Root threw the ball back to Archer it was as if a switch had been flicked. The energy returned to the stands and to the field – you just knew something would happen. 

And happen it did. Whistling bouncers, searing pace and movement off a perfectly-presented seam have become hallmarks of Archer’s bowling and it was too good for Warner. 

A nick off, a chorus of boos to herald his exit and cheers to the rafters for England’s new hero. 

His maiden five-wicket Test haul – six for 45 – was a perfect demonstration of his ability, blending pace with a control that belied his lack of red-ball cricket.

Root now has an X-Factor in his ranks. A man he can throw the ball to in a bid to make an instant impact. The old-fashioned strike bowler. 

Beyond his impact on the field, you genuinely feel Archer is a player who can really be a star attraction for the sport.

Yes he must be managed carefully and all the serious stuff, but his raw potential, his likeable demeanour and his ability to seemingly predict the future on Twitter all comes together to create a buzz that could attract more people to cricket and put bums on seats.

Archer could be the shining star of fast bowling – perhaps alongside South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada – for the next five to ten years. 

If ever somebody could get children up and down the country on parks and at cricket clubs trying to bowl as fast as they can, this is the man. For all the marketing, the TV exposure, new competitions and the like, a sport needs stars to thrive. 

There is no doubt that, in Jofra Archer, England have a box office star. 

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