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Archer happy for Australia to underestimate his threat

 

Game plan: England pace bowler Jofra Archer
Game plan: England pace bowler Jofra Archer
Australia head coach Justin Langer

By Rory Dollard

England paceman Jofra Archer insists he is ready to rise to the challenge of Test cricket and warned Australia coach Justin Langer "has another thing coming" if he thinks otherwise.

Archer is set to make his Test debut at Lord's in the second match of the Ashes tomorrow, the same venue where he played a starring role in the World Cup final a month ago.

While Archer's skills in the limited-overs arena have been proven on the highest stage of all, his last first-class appearance came in September 2018, and a productive outing for Sussex's second XI last week represents his only match in whites this season.

Langer has said Australia's plan for Archer is to "keep wearing him down, get him back into his second or third or fourth spells" but the man himself believes the opposition are barking up the wrong tree.

"I'm probably more ready than I've ever been. I think Justin Langer has another thing coming," he responded.

"I've played a lot more red ball than I have white ball. I do think it's my preferred format anyway. I personally believe in Test cricket you get a lot more opportunities to redeem yourself.

"It was actually the first format I played in when I started at Sussex. If it's 50 overs, when you don't have a good 10-overs, that's it. You've got to wait till the next game. You have ample chances to do it in a red-ball game."

While the 24-year-old is clearly confident in his own ability to help England strike back from 1-0 down in the series, he also moved to dial down expectations.

After record wicket-taker James Anderson was ruled out with a calf injury, much will be asked of Archer at Lord's but he does not expect things to come easy.

"What I would say firstly is don't expect any miracles!" he said. "I can't work miracles - I'll try to but I don't think that's how it might pan out. I'll try my best and I can only give my best."

Langer earlier reflected on the rigours of five-day cricket and will be an interested onlooker as Archer seeks to prove his credentials.

"We've seen what a good cricketer he is, we respect him. But like everyone I'm really curious to see how he goes in red-ball cricket," the Australian said.

"Hopefully our guys have got the answers for whatever he's got to dish up to us. The question is have you got the mental toughness and the physical endurance to play well in Test cricket?

"That's not just for him, it's for the 22 guys out there, those same questions are asked."

Meanwhile, Langer accepts Australia "got lucky" in the first Ashes Test by cashing in on Anderson's injury.

While there was nothing fortunate about Steve Smith's twin centuries at Edgbaston and nothing accidental about Nathan Lyon's brilliant bowling display on day five - two performances which helped deliver a crushing 251-run win - Langer realises how important Anderson's absence was.

England's record wicket-taker managed just four overs on the first morning in Birmingham before a calf problem struck, leaving the home attack one short for the majority of the match.

The 37-year-old was restricted to a pair of batting cameos at No.11 thereafter and has been ruled out of this week's Lord's clash, where the tourists will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.

"We are very aware that England played without James Anderson, one of their best players, and we got lucky," said Langer.

"That's the truth of it, with him not playing. He's a brilliant fast bowler, one of the all-time greats, so if he only bowls four overs for the match then we got lucky there. Here at Lord's there's different conditions and different pressures so we just have to make sure we're right for this Test match."

Australia could be tempted to go in unchanged after their victory last time out but have a highly-decorated pace pair in Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc waiting in the wings should they be tempted to change.

England, meanwhile, will make at least two changes to the attack that was blunted so masterfully by Smith and might even go for three if they can engineer a way to add all-rounder Sam Curran to the XI.

As well as the extra pace of the uncapped Archer, Somerset's Jack Leach is set to return having been recalled at Moeen Ali's expense.

Statistical analysis from CricViz has shown that Smith's record against left-arm finger spin is a potential weak spot, averaging 34.90 against such bowlers - a modest return given his otherwise formidable numbers.

But, having seen the former captain turn in one of his best ever displays, Langer is backing Smith to answer any questions that Leach poses.

"No, I don't buy into it," he said of the slow left-arm 'solution'.

"He's got this incredible ability to solve problems, I'm sure he'll be thinking a lot about he's going to play all the new bowlers who are coming in.

"He's a good player and hopefully he'll have a way of working it out. As we keep saying, he's a different beast and he knows how to prepare and what works for him."

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