England’s cricketers know only too well the damage that can be caused in a day – so it might come as some relief to be reminded they have a man to turn to who can inflict such carnage.
Admittedly, Gloucestershire’s second XI is a world away from Steve Smith and company, but Jofra Archer’s exploits on his latest Sussex comeback could well have had a few Australian knees knocking today.
The 24-year-old seamer, still shaking off a side strain that left him in “excruciating pain” during the World Cup, was supposed to use the game to prove his fitness with the ball to earn an Ashes debut in the second Test at Lord’s – and he did just that with fabulous figures of 6-27 at Blackstone.
But, after England’s mediocre Monday with the bat at Edgbaston, skipper Joe Root would have been pleased to be reminded that Archer – who has a first-class average of 31.34 – can deliver runs too after he bludgeoned 108 off 99 balls, including four sixes.
How England could have done with those bowling or batting figures as the first Test got away from them in the final two days of the 251-run defeat Birmingham.
Archer famously foretold the outcome of this summer’s unforgettable World Cup final victory in a series of tweets – but Gloucestershire’s second string soon discovered there was little predictable about the right-armer’s bowling.
The Barbados-born bowler appeared to be a man on a mission as he registered four maidens in his six-wicket 12.1-over spell that helped dismiss the visitors for 79.
Then, batting at number six, he scored 29 more than the entire Gloucestershire team managed, spending almost as much time at the crease (102 minutes) as the visiting batsmen collectively (136 minutes).
Archer’s efforts have ensured the Second XI Championship game is virtually over – maybe even Super Over – just a day into the three-day match.
With James Anderson ruled out of the second Test against Australia with a calf injury, Archer now looks primed to replace him after proving his Test fitness, following two recent T20 Blast appearances.
England will hope that after a summer in which Archer has battled a pain in his side, he is reproducing the form that can make him a thorn in the side of the Aussies come 14 August in central London.