Joe Root has urged Jofra Archer not to underestimate his talent when facing the new challenge posed by New Zealand conditions in the upcoming Test series.
Speaking at Mount Maunganui ahead of the first of two Tests, Root backed Archer’s raw pace as a potential game-changer despite this being Archer’s first Test series outside of England and with the red Kookaburra ball.
“Knowing Jofra, he wants to see the ball moving sideways,” Root said. “But one thing he underestimates is his own talent sometimes and that pace through the air can be a quite a big skill in its own.
“I just want him to go and bowl and enjoy bowling, the different challenges that this part of the world will throw at him. I want him to come away from it learning there is more than one way of taking 20 wickets, he doesn’t have to be seaming or swinging it round corners, we’ve already seen hostile spells of bowling. Can he tailor that to these conditions? And make sure that he’s grown his wealth of knowledge on these types of pitches.
“He makes it look ridiculously easy with his action and the way he approaches the crease, the nature of his style … but to be able to bowl at that pace for a period of time is a skill in itself and I think he needs to understand that.”
Archer admitted in his Daily Mail column recently that he had never bowled with a red Kookaburra before the warm-up games in New Zealand and he was underwhelmed, saying, “it doesn’t hold its shine and gets very old, very fast”.
The pitch appeared a little green on Tuesday, two days out from the toss, although it was expected to deteriorate somewhat and offer more in the way of spin with Root already observing changes during the course of the day.
“It’s actually changed [in colour] quite drastically since this morning,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how that continues until the start of the game. There’s quite a lot of grass on it so am pretty open-minded about what to expect. I’ll have another look in the morning.”
Root also said that while he wanted Archer to develop his learning curve after playing four Tests so far – all of them during the Ashes – the England captain was still working out how to get the best out of his burgeoning fast-bowling star.
“One thing I have learned is that he has a huge hunger for wickets,” Root said. “He wants to be in the game and once you get the ball in his hand and he feels like he has something to offer, a bit like Jimmy [Anderson], he can be very hard to get it off.
“It’s a great trait to have and over this next period it’s about trying to manage that carefully, sensibly, to get the most out of him in that moment but also the longevity of a young man’s career who has that ability to change a game – you want him to bowl as many spells as possible over 90mph, not one a series or once in a blue moon. That’s something over time we’ll get better at.”
Archer was England’s standout seamer in the recent Ashes series, with his battle against Steve Smith truly setting the series on fire. On debut at Lord’s, Archer delivered an exhilarating spell replete with bouncers to Smith with the old ball which ended up as one of the highlights of the summer. Only logical then that his clash with Kane Williamson – another great batsman – is awaited with great anticipation. Archer’s aware of that challenge as well.
“I didn’t want to be bowling to Steve Smith again any time soon after what happened last summer,” Archer said. “But New Zealand have Kane Williamson, who isn’t going to give you much either. We’re probably going to have to try a bit of everything against him, although he plays the short ball pretty well.”