He’s the “superstar” who has “brought the Ashes to life”.
England may not have won the second Test at Lord’s, but in Jofra Archer they have a player who has transformed the series.
The hosts were toothless for large parts of the first eight days, flogged around Edgbaston and Lord’s by Steve Smith.
Smith looked immovable, racking up two centuries in Birmingham and seemingly on his way to another in north London.
But that was before debutant Archer, who only qualified to play for England in March, marked his entrance into Test Cricket in the most ferocious style.
He bowled a spell on Saturday afternoon which featured one delivery clocked at 96mph and left commentators comparing him with some of the quickest bowlers in history.
Archer hit Smith on the left forearm and then floored him with a brutal bouncer that struck him on the neck and ruled him out of the final day’s play.
The 24-year-old may not have dismissed Smith but he unsettled him like no England bowler has done before.
Then, with England chasing an unlikely win late on day five, Archer brought Lord’s to life again.
He took three wickets and had the Australia top order flinching as the ball whistled past their noses.
Marnus Labuschagne – Smith’s concussion substitute – was also felled when he was clattered on the grille of his helmet.
“He has announced himself on the world stage in a different format,” said England all-rounder Ben Stokes. “The sky is the limit for that kid.”
- Australia survive fright to deny England in Lord’s thriller
- Archer has changed Ashes dynamic – Root
- Concussed Smith hopes to be fit for third Test
As big an impact as Warne?
Former England spinner Phil Tufnell said Archer’s impact on this Ashes series was similar to that of legendary Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne in 1993 following his ‘Ball of the Century’ to Mike Gatting.
“That was absolutely compelling yesterday,” Tufnell said. “It was edge-of-your-seat stuff.
“Jofra has grabbed these Ashes by the scruff of the neck.
“I was driving home from Edgbaston and I couldn’t see how, without James Anderson, England would take 20 wickets. Jofra has turned it on its head.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan described Archer compared Archer’s spell on the fourth day to former England fast bowler Steve Harmison’s 7-12 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2004.
“I remember Harmison getting his seven-for, but I don’t remember it being that quick,” Vaughan said.
“It was like when all the bars emptied because Freddie (former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff) arrived out in the middle. I have never seen the ground like it was today for a bowler. It was an amazing atmosphere.
“With Archer, I am excited for the next few years of Test match Cricket. We have got a superstar.”
The most exciting debut since Pietersen?
BBC Sport’s Stephan Shemilt at Lord’s
Two days before he made his Test debut, Jofra Archer was asked about his historical tweets prophesying the future.
He laughed it off, then delivered a prediction that came true.
He proved as much with sustained hostile, ferocious and terrifying fast bowling, the likes of which an England team have not had at their disposal for many years.
Not only did he reverse the momentum of the series and return fire to an Australia side that has been used to bullying England, but also captured the imagination of a home crowd that has been longing for their team to possess such a lethal weapon.
As his debut – perhaps the most exciting by an England player since Kevin Pietersen – wore on, the Lord’s crowd came to expect something every time he took the ball. The roars that accompanied him to the crease became increasingly louder.
In the space of five days, with two brutal blows to visiting batsmen and countless other deliveries that had the visitors diving for cover, Archer has announced himself as one of the most fearsome bowlers in Test Cricket.
The stats behind Archer’s record-breaking pace
- On Saturday Archer bowled the fastest over by an England bowler on record (73rd over – average 92.79mph).
- He also bowled three of the fastest 10 overs on record.
- Archer’s spell on Saturday was the third fastest by an England bowler on record (excluding slower balls).
- He bowled six deliveries in a row over 90mph.
- Archer bowled one ball at 96.1mph, hit Smith with a delivery at 91.3mph and hit Labuschagne with another recorded at 91.6mph.
- Archer has hit batsmen on the body or helmet 15 times in his international career. Since his debut, no player has managed to do so on as many occasions.
Statistics from CricViz.
‘Frightening’ – what the players said
England captain Joe Root: “Out on the field Jofra has clearly made a big impact. The dynamic he adds to the bowling attack is fantastic. What a couple of brilliant spells we have seen from him already. It is an exciting prospect going into the rest of the series.”
England all-rounder Ben Stokes: “Frightening. I am not sure there will be a better debut in terms of announcing yourself in the team. The spell was incredible to watch. We were laughing that he was going to be top of the rankings after one Test. We are very lucky he is in our team. He gives you an extra dimension.”
‘I would rather walk barefoot across Lego’ – what you said
BBC Sport readers marvelled at Archer’s pace and described what they would rather do than face his bowling…
Teerath Gill: I would rather fight Chuck Norris.
Gary Briddick: As a Liverpool fan I’d rather wear a Man Utd shirt for an hour.
Jonny Lipsham Studio: I would rather provoke a hungry lion with a steak strapped to my trousers.
Tom in Devon: I would rather try to kill a tiger armed only with a biro.
Jack Clark: I would rather walk barefoot across Lego for eternity.