Former England captain Alec Stewart has questioned whether fast bowler Jofra Archer enjoys the full faith of current skipper Joe Root.
Speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket Debate, the panel discussed whether James Anderson, who has match figures of 1-97 in the first Test against Pakistan and has taken just six wickets in three games this summer at an average of 41.16. He also came under significant criticism from Nasser Hussain for instigating England’s poor performance after lunch on the first day of the ongoing Test match.
However, Stewart backed Anderson to come back strongly, and wondered whether external factors might be affecting his effectiveness.
“Don’t write him off,” he said. “He has been brilliant. He is still very very highly skilled. It’s almost an easy line when he goes a game or two without being as devastating as we’ve expected him to be. Also, do we think the ball has swung as much when you can’t apply the saliva? It’s just sweat or whatever it is. Has that had an effect on his lack of impact in the last couple of innings?”
The questions surrounding Ben Stokes’ fitness were also deemed pertinent. England have picked five bowlers for their last two games, with the all-rounder deemed fit to play only as a batsman. However, on the third evening, he came onto bowl and claimed two key wickets. If he is fit to round out England’s bowling attack, the hosts will face a tough decision over who to leave out, and Stewart wondered whether Root’s seeming lack of faith in Archer could come into the equation. Archer bowled only five overs in Pakistan’s second innings, despite claiming three wickets in the first.
“Is the captain definitely backing Archer?” asked Stewart. “Because again, when the lower order was batting, especially at the close of play today, he didn’t throw the ball to Archer. Yesterday he made him wait a long long time.
“I think we’ve got to discover whether the captain is using Archer correctly or just has a little question mark against him, and that will also answer the question of whether Jimmy comes into the discussion as the one who misses out should they go with just the four bowlers and the fourth bowler being Stokes.”