Published On: Fri, Sep 13th, 2019

Jofra Archer’s six-wicket Ashes haul already shows England how to manage star | Cricket | Sport

For a snapshot of demand for Jofra Archer at the moment, the sight of him hanging back in the middle as his teammates left the field for the tea break was as good as any.

Given the shift he had put in to that point he could have been forgiven for being first into the dressing room with first call on the restorative fingers of Mark Saxby and his massage table.

Instead he hung back to warmly embrace a steward named Derek, who had stepped from the boundary edge to guard the wicket. 

Derek knows his dad Frank and has known the bowler since his days playing in the under-19s World Cup for West Indies.

Everyone will want a piece of Archer moving forward after a debut summer in which he has made a stunning impact on this series and on international cricket in general.

And England will be well aware of it.

His 6-62 on Friday which first broke open Australia’s batting line-up then mopped up the tail will not have put anyone off, whether it be global T20 cricket franchises or potential commercial sponsors.

Yet England will also be aware that they need to manage Archer carefully from here. Because having got their hands on a bowler capable of winning series and trophies in all formats they need to manage demands on him carefully.

Archer will still getting used to the rigours at this level. 

Yesterday he bowled one ball shy of 24 overs in four shifts – a proper workload given he kept hitting the speed gun at 87mph throughout and he was rewarded with the noise from a packed Oval as he raised the ball aloft at the innings break

For all the accolades, he will feel it Saturday morning. Even at just 24.

Archer missed the first Test after battling through the World Cup with a side strain for all that it did not noticeably slow him down in the final. It was a World Cup in which he took 20 wickets in 11 matches and bowled 100.5 overs.

Since rejoining the England effort in whites, he has fired down 140 overs, taken 22 wickets at 17.27 in addition to net sessions which all add to the percussive effect on his body.

Archer’s pace, which saw him reach 96mph at Lord’s, was always likely to see him best utilised in short sharp spells.

Yet the injury to Jimmy Anderson after just four overs at Edgbaston and the search for the wicket – most notably a delivery that could dislodge Steve Smith – has forced Joe Root to call on him more than he might have been inclined.

Archer is clearly the solution to a long term problem – how to replace Stuart Broad and or Mark Wood when age and injury remove them from the reckoning for Root’s mission aim, the next Ashes in 2021-22.

But getting him there in one piece will need careful monitoring and England must not either flog him or let others flog him when he is out of their sight.

Archer was superb on day two with an almost unplayable spell with the new ball yielding 2-7 and five maidens from seven overs. Neither David Warner nor Marcus Harris had any answers to his pace.

After lunch he returned with a second blizzard of six overs hitting Marnus Labuschagne on the elbow, pinning him lbw and taking 1-23.

After tea he came back for another seven, too fast for the swing of Mitch Marsh’s bat who holed out to Jack Leach at fine leg, taking 1-18 before a final burst of 2-14 to nip out the final two stragglers. 

It will be difficult to stop him maximising his talents and marketability – he is already an Indian Premier League star with two seasons on contracts worth upwards of £800,000 under his belt. 

England are planning to rest him for some of a winter during which he looks tailor-made for the hard pitches of South Africa.

But outside of that the cotton wool beckons. Breaking him early is not an option which bears contemplating.

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