Jofra Archer's been having a rough week ever since he decided to make a little unauthorised stopover at his home in Hove while travelling from Southampton to Manchester after the first Test against West Indies.
The England pacer faced criticism from experts and fans, and was fined as well as warned by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for his rash act, besides missing out on the second Test and having to self-isolate for five days.
However, things got a little out of hand for the Barbados-born English cricketer when he was subjected to racial abuse on social media for his stopover, especially at a time when athletes are seen taking in knee in solidarity with the 'Black Lives Matter' movement and there is a lot more awareness on anti-racism following the death of George Floyd in the US.
West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick, who saw Archer from close quarters in his early days before the latter decided to switch nationalities, condemned the racial abuse that the speedster was subjected to and extended his support.
"Jofra will be fine. I’ve been in constant contact with him… have been talking to him and trying to reassure him that you know we all make mistakes and learn from your mistakes and we move on.
"I spoke to him yesterday, and he appeared to be in a good space. I will continue to support him, there’s no doubt about that, and I’ll be there for him.
"He knows what he’s done, he would’ve learnt from it and he will understand that he will get criticism," former Barbados cricketer Estwick told reporters in an online press conference on Wednesday.
The three-match Test series between England and West Indies, which marks the return of international cricket after months due to the coronavirus pandemic, stands at 1-1 after the home team bounced back in the second Test at Manchester with a 113-run win.
Estwick believes the big hundreds made by Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley and the fact that the West Indies batsmen got the starts, but were not able to convert them into big scores is what made the difference.
"We’re really not concerned in terms of the (batting) form because we think that they’re hitting the ball quite well and getting into good positions. What we’re concerned is that people have got starts and not gone on to get big hundreds, and that’s made the difference.
"If you look at the last game, Stokes and Sibley got big hundreds, and that’s been the big difference in the last Test match. So we’re hoping that players once they get in they can keep going and keep getting big partnerships," said Estwick.
West Indies had won the first Test at Southampton, chasing down the 200-run target set by the hosts with four wickets to spare, and captain Jason Holder played a key role in the first innings with the ball as he snared six wickets for 42 runs.
Holder, who was the number one-ranked Test all-rounder in the world until disloged by Stokes after the second Test, remains a valuable option as a batsman down the order at No 8, although there have been some calls for him to bat higher much like Stokes does in the England XI. Estwick however, disagreed with the idea of tweaking the current West Indian middle-order.
"When you look at the two guys who are batting at No 6, obviously Blackwood has been very, very good in the series. Jason is a big player for us, but he’s made a double hundred batting at 8. He just needs people around him and Jas knows that once he can find partnerships and find some kind of window, he can still be just as destructive as Ben Stokes."
Estwick, who represented Barbados in Caribbean domestic cricket in the 1980s, said the added responsibility of captaincy as well as a heavier bowling workload compared to Stokes was what made Holder's life tougher.
"But you also remember that the workload that Jason puts in as a bowler, Ben doesn’t put in. Ben will go through 15 overs a day; Jason will go through 25 and then he’s captain as well, so mentally it’s not as easy as people think it is because he’s one of our number one bowlers and we depend on him for his bowling as well," added Estwick.
While they defeated Joe Root and Co at home in a three-Test series last year, winning by a 2-1 margin, the West Indies' haven't had much success on English soil for the past three decades. The last time they won a Test series in England was back in 1988 when Viv Richards' men pummeled the hosts 4-0 in a five-match series.
The Windies managed to level the series at Headingley the last time they were in England back in 2017, thanks mainly to a spectacular Shai Hope fourth innings knock, before losing the series decider at Lord's to surrender the series.
Estwick says the squad's constantly reminding themselves of the opportunity that they have ahead of the big 'final', which will also be played at Manchester.
"We’re constantly reminding that we’ve got a chance to change something that hasn’t happened for 32 years. We’ve played them a few times over the last two-three years and we’ve won odd Test matches.
"We’ve obviously won in the Caribbean (and) we want to go one step better here in England. We really want to win that Test match, we’ve really got to be up for it. Obviously England’s going to be up for it as well because it’s a final," said Estwick, who believes early wickets and getting off to solid starts will be the key to victory.
As far as Estwick is concerned, the visitors have to bring their ‘A game’ forward and leave no stone unturned if they are to finally end their 32-year wait.
“It’s a big Test match, and we’ve just got to be ready. We can’t have any excuses. We’ve got to go there and bring our ‘A’ game. All eleven players that walk on that park. The support staff as well.
“We’ve got to be up for it, we’ve got to push them. We’ve got to make sure that we’re ready. We’ve got to leave no stone unturned to make sure that we get the result that the Caribbean deserves,” added the assistant coach.
The final Test between the two sides begins on Friday, 24 July with Manchester's Old Trafford hosting back-to-back Test matches, and will be aired live on Sony Six channels with play starting at 3.30 pm IST.
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