Jofra Archer has spent plenty of his cricket career driving whatever team he plays to new heights.
In his first summer in international cricket he played a significant part in winning England’s men their first Cricket World Cup title, before bowling one of the fastest and most electrifying spells by an England bowler to Steve Smith on Test debut.
He’s having quite the IPL campaign for Rajasthan Royals too, going into their clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore with the second-best economy rate for a pace bowler in the 2020 competition, the second most wickets, and the second-best batting strike-rate too.
His innings might not have carried the same explosiveness as his usual exploits, but he did have time to put himself near the top of another list, of the most pointless reviews in cricket history.
There have been a few contenders in recent times. Jason Holder, in England’s Test series against West Indies this summer, indulged in an increasingly unlikely sequence of forearm ‘T’s, more in an attempt to take time out of the game, while Tim Paine’s speculative requests in last year’s Headingley Test became infamous when Ben Stokes completed one of Test cricket’s greatest victories, courtesy of some questionable but unchallengeable umpiring.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 20, 2020
Archer’s review was less pure speculation, more blind hope. The quick was struck on the toe by a Chris Morris yorker, with his bat nowhere near the ball, and ball tracking projecting the ball would have struck the base of middle stump. It would have been difficult for it to have been more ‘out’.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 17, 2020
However, what truly elevated it was the complete pointlessness of the whole enterprise. At least with Holder and Paine, there was some theoretical team benefit to be gained from those reviews, had they gone their way. What set Archer’s recourse to the third umpire apart was that, even if by some miracle the decision had been overturned, Royals’ total wouldn’t have changed at all.
To explain, it’s important to note that the incident occurred on the final ball of the final over of RR’s first innings. Barely before Archer had had time to leave his crease, the umpire had raised his finger.
With the playing conditions making the ball dead as soon as a player is given out, even had he been reprieved, the attempted leg bye he hobbled through for wouldn’t have counted. The only difference that would have been made is that Archer’s 2 off 3 would have had a * inked in next to it.
RCB captain Virat Kohli looked put out at having been kept out in the field a minute or so longer. Archer looked unfussed. He wanted a red inker, but it didn’t matter really.