Head coach Chris Silverwood admitted England are still learning how to get the best out of Jofra Archer after a day of toil in the first Test against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui.
Expectation on Archer has risen significantly since his standout roles in the World Cup and Ashes, but he has been unable to consistently reach the speeds in the last couple of days that saw him become a breakout star for England.
There was a brief, sharp burst as he topped 94.4mph on day three against the Black Caps but he remains wicketless so far in his first overseas Test and only his fifth in total.
New Zealand only lost two wickets all day as BJ Watling’s patient 119 not out ushered them to 394 for six and a first-innings lead of 41 on a slow surface where Archer’s pace and aggression was expected to make a difference.
Silverwood said: “He’s still very young in his Test career. At the same time, Jofra’s learning about himself and the game of Test cricket and equally Joe (Root) is learning to captain him as well.
“From a holistic point of view we’re growing together, really. It’s a learning curve for us. How do we take 20 wickets abroad? This is part of the process and we’re building from it.”
Archer was overlooked at the start of play as well as with the new ball, with Root preferring left-armer Sam Curran and veteran seamer Stuart Broad on both occasions.
I thought we showed a great attitude and put a lot of effort into it. It’s been a good hard-fought day of Test cricketChris Silverwood
Late in the day, Archer was awarded an lbw verdict when Watling was on 113 but a review highlighted a faint inside edge on Hot Spot, reprieving the New Zealand wicketkeeper as he batted all day.
Silverwood added: “Jofra creates problems. He was unlucky not to get an lbw, there was a faint tickle on that one. He’s learning ways to operate when he’s out there and the one thing we know he has is a ferocious bouncer.
“There’s a very simple theory behind the new ball and that was we wanted to give Sam the best chance of swinging it. We’ve seen when he’s swung it, in this game as well, that he’s been dangerous. Nothing more to it than that.”
Watling was reprieved on 31 when Ben Stokes dropped a slip catch off Root, while Rory Burns was unable to cling on to a more difficult chance as Colin De Grandhomme had a let-off on 62 during a 119-run stand with Watling.
Burns spent the remainder of the day off the field because of a small split on his right thumb although De Grandhomme added only three runs to his score after Dom Sibley pulled off a wonderful low catch at gully.
Silverwood added: “You’ve probably seen on a morning that we are doing a lot of catching so we know that we’ve got to try to get better and we’re trying very hard to do that. I think the more we practice, the better we’ll get.”
As for their day in the dirt, Silverwood was characteristically upbeat, as he said: “The thing I enjoyed is that we gave time for the plans for work.
“I thought we showed a great attitude and put a lot of effort into it. It’s been a good hard-fought day of Test cricket.”
Watling showed customary tenacity after his drop to reach three figures off 251 balls and revealed afterwards he knows his limits, adding his innings was motivated by a desire to avoid returning to field.
He said: “I know I didn’t want to field (on Saturday) so that was driving me.
“I just think I’m very limited and I try to play how I know works best for me. I take a few shots away that some of the big boys do and I definitely can’t.
“I try to stick to a game-plan and hopefully it pays off.”