Cricket

Ashes 2019: Jofra Archer leaves Lord's with fate of series in his hands after terrorising Australian batsmen with his raw pace

  • Charles Reynolds
  • August 19th, 2019
  • 9:15:03 IST

Welcome then to Test cricket Jofra Archer. Do believe the hype. Not since Kevin Pietersen made his debut at the same ground back in 2005 has an England player seemed such an immediate star – suddenly the teams go to Headingley with the whole dynamic of the series turned on its head.

Australia, it must be said, remain undefeated in the series and while their rearguard action was hardly up to Spartan standards – just about managing to survive for 47.3 overs is not exactly the stuff of legends – they nevertheless keep their 1-0 lead.

England's Jofra Archer celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Usman Khawaja caught behind during play on day five of the 2nd Ashes Test cricket match between England and Australia at Lord's cricket ground in London, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Jofra Archer leaves Lord's with the fate of the Ashes series in the palm of his hand. AP/Alastair Grant

That, however, is about the only positive the tourists can take from this game, they must now play the series with the spectre of Archer looming over them, and with the third Test starting in just four days, they will have little time to lick their wounds both physical and mental.

Until just after lunch on Day Four of this Test, Australia held the psychological edge in this series. They had already laid waste to 'Fortress Edgbaston' and with the seemingly unbeatable Steve Smith leading every charge, it looked like being a long summer for the home side. Enter Sir Jofra and that spell, and suddenly with Australia's champion deposed, the picture starts to look very different.

With concussion ruling him out on the final day at Lord's, Smith looks certain to miss the next Test, as big a boost for the home side as it is a devastating blow for the tourists – sans Smith the batting cupboard looks rather bare for Australia.

In one performance, Archer has altered the entire mood of the series. Having humiliated England in the first Test, Australia were growing in confidence, a sensation they will now find much harder to maintain with the threat of terrifyingly fast bowling aggressively bouncing around their subconscious.

Suddenly with Archer in their side, England know they are always in the game. The fiery spell that so dramatically announced his arrival on the world stage was delivered with a 70-over ball after all – when you have a man who can deliver 96mph thunderbolts under those conditions then you know you have something special.

And just as Archer's dramatic entrance will have provided England with a much-needed morale boost, the psychological effect it will surely have had on Australia cannot be understated as well.

Like a new prison arrival picking a fight with the biggest, toughest inmate and winning, England's mini-victory over Smith has altered the mental status quo of this series – the key piece of Australia's Jenga tower has been knocked out and suddenly things look rather more wobbly.

The threat of raw pace does strange things to batsmen and with Archer giving almost all of Australia's lineup a working over at some point during the course of this rain-affected thriller, they travel to Leeds with more than a few psychological scars, night's sleep disturbed by the thought of cricket balls future flying towards their heads at unpalatable speeds.

They can take heart at least from the performance of Marnus Labuschagne, the international game's first concussion substitute, who brought his county form to the larger stage and led Australia to safety in the process.

However, they know they are living in Archer's world now. His entrance onto the world stage was not so much announced as shouted through an industrial size megaphone – he leaves Lord's not just with his first five Test wickets, but with the fate of an Ashes series seemingly in the palm of his hand.

Updated Date: August 19, 2019 09:15:03 IST

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