After his incredible breakthrough summer of 2019 – bowling England to a World Cup win before taking two six-fors in the Ashes – it’s been a year of mixed fortunes for Jofra Archer.
With wickets hard to come by on the tour of New Zealand, an elbow injury ended Archer’s winter after England’s first Test against South Africa.
Nonetheless, he was back fit in time for the start of a summer like no other when West Indies rocked up in July. Having spent more time in bio-secure bubbles than any other England player this summer, here is the tale of his last few months.
2 Tests, 4 wickets @ 50.50
Archer was picked for the first Test against West Indies alongside Mark Wood as England clicked the extreme pace button; it failed to garner much success, however, with the pair sharing just the one wicket in the visitors’ first innings. Nonetheless, Archer was England’s star bowler on the final day of the match, taking two wickets with the new ball before removing Roston Chase with an unplayable bouncer. A Jermaine Blackwood-inspired West Indies were victors, but Archer looked England’s most potent bowler ahead of the second Test.
But Archer missed the match at Emirates Old Trafford after breaching England’s bio-security protocols with an unapproved detour to his home in Hove when travelling to the second Test. Archer’s exclusion from England’s squad was announced just a couple of hours before the toss, with England men’s managing director of cricket Ashley Giles later claiming that Archer’s misdemeanour “could have cost us tens of millions of pounds”. The 25-year-old was punished with a fine and an official written warning.
Writing in the Daily Mail after the the conclusion of the second West Indies Test, Archer opened up on an “extremely tough” week and the scrutiny of the spotlight, while revealing that he had been on the end of racist abuse on social media.
Archer returned for the third Test but took a backseat role as Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes starred in a series-sealing victory.
2 Tests, 4 wickets @ 39.50
Archer kept his place in the England side for the first Test against Pakistan and returned figures of 3-59 in Pakistan’s first innings. Still, he was forced to field questions regarding a drop off in his pace when bowling – a point of discussion that refuses to die down – to which he told Sky: “It’s not every day that you’re going to bowl 90 miles an hour. I’ve seen the other guy [Naseem] Shah started bowling 90 [mph] today, so we’ll see how he goes on tomorrow or later on in the afternoon. No-one is a robot.”
There was to be just one more Test wicket for Archer in the summer following his three-for; he was rested for the rain-affected second Test against Pakistan and went wicketless in the third to finish the summer with eight wickets at an average of 45.
3 ODIs, 7 wickets @ 21.57
3 T20Is, 3 wickets @ 32.33
Called up for both limited-overs series against Australia, Archer turned out for England’s white-ball sides for the first time since last year’s World Cup and was on song throughout. He removed both of Australia’s set openers in an excellent comeback win in the first T20I, and his hold over David Warner (four dismissals in five innings) was a feature across both the ODIs and T20Is.
Archer’s finest performance of the summer came in the second ODI against Australia, where he backed up an exhilarating new-ball spell with a strong finish in the middle overs to reach figures of 3-34, claiming the Player of the Match award in a thrilling 24-run win.
The summer ended on a strange note: Archer bowled his first-ever no ball in ODIs when Alex Carey found Adil Rashid at third man, with Australia 87-5. Carey would go on to reach his maiden international century in a match-turning partnership with Glenn Maxwell. While Archer returned to bowl a fine penultimate over and remove Carey, Australia held on for a series win.
Now the IPL awaits, but Archer, when reflecting on the summer during the Australia series, talked of the mental challenge in the bio-bubble: “I’m not sure how many more bubbles I’ve got left in me for the rest of the year.”