LONDON – There have been few more explosive test debuts than the one made by England’s Jofra Archer in the second match of the Ashes series against Australia at Lord’s.
Although England failed to win the match, Archer’s hostile spell on the fourth day served notice that the 24-year-old Barbados-born fast bowler has the ability to enjoy a stellar career.
The bare statistics do not tell the whole story.
Archer took two wickets in the first innings and three in the second as Australia limped to 154 for six to force a draw on Sunday and remain 1-0 up in the series.
But he left a trail of devastation in his wake, hitting Australia’s leading batsman Steve Smith with a sickening blow to the neck which forced him to retire hurt.
Smith returned to the crease but awoke on Sunday morning suffering from concussion symptoms which ruled him out of the rest of the match.
Archer also struck Smith on the forearm and Marnus Labuschagne, test cricket’s first substitute in place of Smith, on the helmet with the second ball he faced.
His team mates were impressed.
“Out on the field Jofra has clearly made a big impact,” England captain Joe Root said. “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 described Archer’s performance as “frightening”.
“I am not sure there will be a better debut in terms of announcing yourself in the team,” Stokes said. “The spell was incredible to watch. We are very lucky he is in our team. He gives you an extra dimension.”
Many of the Australian team have played with Archer in the Indian premier League and had known what to expect.
“It didn’t surprise us,” captain Tim Paine said. “We’ve seen Jofra in Australia for a few years now. We know the package he brings. It’s something every team wants to have.”
Archer contributed hugely to England’s World Cup victory this year, bowling the Super Over in the final against New Zealand, and has the potential to make an even bigger impact in the longest format of the game.
“With Archer, I am excited for the next few years of test match cricket. We have got a superstar,” former England captain Michael Vaughan, who led his team to victory in the 2005 Ashes, told the BBC.