LONDON – West Indies fast bowling legend, Michael Holding, has criticised Jofra Archer’s workload during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s as “unsustainable”, arguing that bowling 44 overs in the match was tantamount to “abuse”.
The Barbadian fast bowling sensation made a stunning Test debut at Lord’s last week, sending down 29 overs in the first innings and another 15 in the second – all at express pace.
Remarkably, the 24-year-old accounted for 22 of the 75 overs bowled on the dramatic penultimate day.
“Archer bowled a third of all the overs bowled. That’s a spinner’s quota,” Holding told media here.
“If you keep bowling him like this you will lose the 96 mph delivery. He’ll still bowl fast – 90 mph – but do you want to lose the express pace? It is not just about this match or the next, but next year and the one after that.”
In the first innings, Archer’s workload was matched only by new-ball partner Stuart Broad who sent down 27.2 overs. However, as England went in search of wickets on the fourth day of the rain-hit encounter after Australia resumed on 80 for four, Archer was used as the main strike bowler.
He bowled with fearsome pace to twice hit marquee batsman Steve Smith with short pitched deliveries – the second of which was a frightening blow to the head which forced the batsman to temporarily retire hurt, eventually ruled him out of the second innings and also put him out of the third Test at Headingley starting Thursday.
Archer was the only England pacer to bowl more than seven overs in the second innings, as the hosts pushed for a victory which ultimately eluded them.
“It’s abuse. When I was bowling, we had three other quicks just as fast. We could share the burden,” Holding contended.
“England need to be very careful with Archer. He is obviously very fit, as you could see with his recovery from the side strain. Like me, he is tall, not big and muscular. He relies on rhythm and looks very relaxed running in.
“All that is in his favour but it is not sustainable for England to use him like this in every match.”
Jim Pate, a senior physiologist at the Centre for Health and Human Performance, told the London Telegraph there was a danger of such heavy workloads for pacers like Archer and said it was the responsibility of coaches to guard athletes from the “danger zone”.
“Even for a bowler with such a fluent action as Jofra Archer’s, there are inherent risks in one bowler being asked to take on such a big workload in one match,” Pate pointed out.
“Fast bowling places a big strain on different areas of the body: there is a huge amount of stress running through the knee and ankle in the landing leg (although Archer’s smaller jump into the crease mitigates against this a little); there is pressure on the shoulder, which generates so much of the pace in the delivery; and there is tension running through the bowler’s side.
The nature of high-performance athletes is that they will push themselves to the limits of what their bodies can endure – and often beyond. It is the job of the coaches to ensure the athletes are protected from themselves and not allowed to go too far into the danger zone which can lead to injury.”
Archer was born and raised in Barbados but earlier this year qualified to represent England through his father who is British.
He was England’s leading bowler at the recent ICC World Cup with 20 wickets and also bowled a dramatic Super Over as the hosts won a dramatic final at Lord’s. (CMC)