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Archer shrugs off Langer’s questions

The Australia coach is “curious” to see England’s likely Test debutant in red-ball action.

Jofra Archer is ready for his Test debut (Steven Paston/PA)
Jofra Archer is ready for his Test debut (Steven Paston/PA)

By Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent

Jofra Archer believes Justin Langer is barking up the wrong tree if the Australia coach expects Test cricket to grind him down and has plans of his own to rattle the tourists with raw pace.

With England 1-0 down in the Ashes and missing their injured record wicket-taker, James Anderson, Archer is set to make his Test debut at Lord’s on Wednesday.

It is just a month since Archer played a starring role in the World Cup final at the home of cricket, delivering the super over which secured the trophy, but he now faces a whole new challenge.

Archer’s last first-class game came in September 2018 and the only time he has worn his whites this season came in last week’s 2nd XI outing for Sussex, where he was predictably a cut above the crowd.

Langer gently dialled up the pressure on the 24-year-old by declaring himself “curious” about his red-ball credentials and revealing Australia intended to “keep wearing him down, get him back into his second or third or fourth spells”.

“I’m probably more ready than I’ve ever been. I think Justin Langer has another think coming,” said Archer in response.

“I’ve played a lot more red-ball than I have white-ball. I think it’s my preferred format anyway. I don’t think Justin Langer has seen me play first-class cricket.

“I’ve bowled 50 overs in one game already for Sussex and I’m usually the one bowling the most overs.”

Archer refuses to take his selection for granted but it is inconceivable that England will not take the chance to blood him after their hefty loss at Edgbaston.

Captain Joe Root will be eager to unleash a man who hit 95.7mph during the World Cup and frequently left opposition batsman taking evasive action.

South Africa great Hashim Amla and Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey were both hit on the helmet by steepling Archer bouncers during the tournament and a healthy dose of bumpers is likely to be on the agenda in the coming days.

“It is good to know you are quick enough for people to fear you a bit,” he said.

“You don’t always set out to hit the batter. It could be a wicket-taking ball and a dot ball as well.

“Pace makes batters do funny things. It may make him play a shot he is not accustomed to. He may be a bit late on the ball, so if you have the batter overthinking then you are in a good place.

“I think the umpires are a bit more relaxed with bouncers in Test cricket so you can get an extra one or two.”

Since making his bow on the international stage this summer Archer has become a favourite not only for his on-field performances but also for the endless supply of historical Tweets which can seemingly be applied to almost any contemporary cricketing situation.

He leaned into his ‘Jofradamus’ persona on Monday by posting a message which read ‘would love to get on the honours board’ – an aspiration which requires a century or a five-wicket haul to become reality.

Archer in person is more pragmatic about his immediate prospects and warned fans against unrealistic expectations on his first outing.

“I did that just to wind up Twitter, a bit of cheekiness there,” he said.

“If I do it then happy days. What I would say firstly is don’t expect any miracles!

“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 had earlier reflected on the rigours of five-day cricket as he assessed Archer’s potential impact.

“We’ve seen what a good cricketer he is, we’ll respect him,” he said.

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Jofra Archer, centre, trains with England at Lord’s (Steven Paston/PA)

“But like everyone I’m really curious to see how he goes in red-ball cricket. 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.”

England were joined by prolific Essex off-spinner Simon Harmer for their net session at Lord’s, with the South African helping batsmen prepare to face Nathan Lyon, who ran riot in the second innings at Edgbaston.

PA

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