Cricket World Cup: Jofra Archer adds to England weapons

Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer took 3-27 from seven overs in England's opening World Cup win against South Africa.
ICC Men's Cricket World Cup: England v Pakistan
Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham Date: 3 June Time: 10:30 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball commentary on BBC Test Match Special. Live text commentary and in-play highlights on the BBC Sport website.

The opening days of the World Cup have seen aggressive, short-pitched fast bowling come to the fore.

In an era when the bat has been dominating and the poor bowlers have been afforded precious little movement from the white ball, bouncers are a legitimate tactic.

You might ask why this is different to Test cricket where, if a batsman chooses (and is able to), he ducks and weaves the bumpers until the bowler gets fed up and tries something else.

In one-day internationals, the batsman is under pressure to get on with run-scoring and does not have the luxury of leaving too many deliveries.

He is almost compelled to go after the short ball. It is difficult to master the skill of scoring runs from a 90mph delivery that is dug into your armpit or is fizzing past your nose.

It remains to be seen if this trend continues. A lot will depend on pitches and conditions because on a slow wicket or an overcast day when the white ball may offer a hint of swing, it would not be a good idea to be banging it into the middle of the pitch.

If, however, short-pitched bowling becomes a necessity, England are well stocked in the shape of Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.

Along with Ben Stokes, Archer was the standout performer in England's opening win against South Africa on Thursday. He took three wickets and rattled the grille of Hashim Amla, forcing one of the finest players in the game to retire hurt.

Archer has an incredible talent. He is one of those fast bowlers who makes it look easy.

You will see others having to charge in, arms and legs pumping, in order to generate high speed.

Archer has a loose-limbed approach in a run-up that is not very long. He gets into a good position at the crease and releases the ball late from a very high action. He snaps the ball down at genuine pace.

He has rhythm to his bowling. That is a hard a thing to define but very difficult to find if it is not there. It is when everything is working in perfect harmony - the run-up, action, release and follow-through all click and flow into one another.

For Archer, it looks like all of that comes naturally.

Jofra Archer hits South Africa's Hashim Amla on the helmet
Archer hits South Africa's Hashim Amla on the helmet grille

Not only that, but he is an extremely relaxed character, one who has taken to international cricket as easily as anyone I have seen.

That might be because of his experience in Twenty20 leagues around the world, where he has become used to playing in front of big crowds and delivering under pressure.

Should England and their fans be excited about him? Absolutely they should be, not only for what he might achieve in the World Cup, but then in Test cricket during the Ashes and beyond.

While Archer has been bowling with the unresponsive white ball, it is difficult to know what he might do with the red version.

However, it is not hard to imagine him being a handful when he gets the chance to tear in with three slips and a gully waiting to snaffle an edge.

For years England have been crying out for genuine pace when they have played away from home.

Remember the last Ashes in Australia, when they were simply outgunned? Now, with Archer and hopefully a fully fit Wood, they have weapons of their own.

That, though, is the future. The present is the World Cup and Monday's game against Pakistan, who were hammered by West Indies at this same Trent Bridge ground on Friday.

Impressive as England were against South Africa, there is still room for improvement. The fact that four batsmen passed 50 but none went on to make a hundred will be something they have looked at.

Eoin Morgan's men will have also noted how uncomfortable the Windies' fast bowlers made life for Pakistan, who can certainly expect England to deliver some more chin music.

Pakistan have now lost 11 consecutive one-day internationals and, when you get into a negative roll like that, it can be very hard to break free.

Remember, this is tournament play, where every opponent will want to be ruthless in their one match against you. It is not a five-match series where your opponent might rotate players or take their eye off the ball for one or two games.

It will take a lot for Pakistan to come back and I expect England to win.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Stephan Shemilt.

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