Australian fast-bowling great Glenn McGrath has described England speedster Jofra Acher as “something special” and has suggested that British fans should be happy to have him in their international line-up.
McGrath, who took 563 wickets in a glittering 124-Test career, said he had been a big supporter of Archer for a long time and loved what he saw of the Barbados-born fast-bowler.
“It’s quite rare to be able to bowl with pace and accuracy for such a long time. To have pace is so unique and with Archer, it is all natural. His action doesn’t look too stressful, he has a nice, smooth run-up and goes through the crease really well. It’s a fairly stress-free action and he’s young and fit. He keeps it simple: he just comes in, bowls good areas and with good pace.
“At Lord’s he bowled some quite lengthy spells, but he maintained his pace throughout his overs. That is a brilliant sign that he can bowl long spells at top pace then come back and bowl second and third spells no problem at all. With a guy with his action and technique, I don’t see any reason why he can’t play plenty of Tests. It’s just experience that he needs and he will be fine,” McGrath said.
McGrath, who is writing a column for the BBC during the Ashes series, said that because Archer was such a natural, fast bowling came quite easy to him. He said that accuracy was always going to be nearly second nature for the 24-year-old.
“Archer hit 96mph at one point in the Lord’s Test – it is quite rare to see a guy bowling that pace and it has a positive effect on the bowler at the other end. I bowled in tandem with Brett Lee, who produced some fast, fiery spells. When you’ve got someone bowling up above 90mph, it has a fear factor that not many people really enjoy.
“If you’ve got a guy bowling that pace and then you’re keeping it tight at the other end, you can really work in partnership and build pressure, because the batsmen have no scoring options,” he explained.
McGrath said that in addition to Stuart Broad, England would also prefer to have James Anderson available so that Archer could learn from both of them.
“It’s a bit of a shame Anderson isn’t there, but Archer looks like a quick learner to me. He has never seemed overawed by a situation. He’s going to have a lot more Tests under his belt, the way he plays. For England to have a strike bowler, it is a weapon that they’ll enjoy, and the Australians will have to be on their game,” he said.
McGrath said he was pleased to see the quality of fastbowling on both sides.
“Australia have someone like James Pattinson to come in for the next Test at Headingley from Thursday, and Pat Cummins has taken 13 wickets in two matches. It’s good to see these quality fast bowlers on show.
“When Mitchell Starc, who has yet to play in this series, gets it right, he can bowl at 90mph and swing the ball. But he attacks the stumps – he doesn’t bowl aggressive spells like we saw Archer bowl so easily the other day.
“That’s probably the only thing with Starc – he bowls good pace and he’s going to get you out, but he’s not going to really intimidate you the way Archer does,” McGrath suggested.
He said Steve Smith would be missed by the Aussies in the third Test but added head injuries were rightfully taken a lot more seriously now.
“Him missing the Headingley Test will be a massive loss for Australia. He has been a standout in this series and he looks like he’s batting in different conditions to everyone else.
“I’m still backing Australia, of course. I think England still have a lot of worries in their top order and with three Tests to go and Australia leading 1-0, England have to win at least two. England will be buoyed by Archer coming in and doing as well as he did – but there’s a long way to go in this series yet,” he said.