Lord’s was transformed into an old time Roman Coliseum as a Jofra
Archer-charged England sought an improbable Sunday afternoon victory at the
home of cricket. KEN PIESSE reports:
CRICKET is at its most irresistible when express bowlers evolve.
The most thrilling have been matchwinners. The likes of Tyson 1954-55, Lillee and Thomson 1974-75 and Johnson 2013-14 share a rare Ashes stratosphere, having turned series in lethal onslaughts which remain among the most extraordinary in Ashes annals.
This weekend at Lord’s a new super hero has emerged in the West Indian-born Jofra Archer, who is just five thrilling days into his Test career.
Shrugging aside pre-match questions about his stamina from Australia’s coach Justin Langer, Archer’s momentum-changing maiden Test will be talked about for years.
Conservative Lord’s has rarely heard such a commotion as England captain Joe Root stood at slip with his arms high in the air urging the crowd to yell even louder as 24-year-old Archer
produced the fastest into the wind spell since Thommo 45 years ago.
Having dismissed the out of form David Warner, the loose-limbed Archer soon accounted for Usman Khawaja before striking concussion substitute Marcus Labuschagne in the helmet with his high speed second ball delivered at more than 91 mph into the wind.
He became a little more manageable after tea with the ball losing some of its hardness. Australia forced a draw, but all the momentum was with Archer and England. And in just two extraordinary days the series fortunes had been turned irrevocably, prompting fresh interrogations into the substance of Australia’s top six minus its concussed champion Steve Smith.
The biggest question, aside from Smith’s delayed concussion forcing him to be withdrawn from this Test, is the immediate future of Warner whose four innings this series have produced 2, 8, 3 and 5.
It has been six years since he has had such a wretched run. In the first innings he was half forward and lost his leg bail. Today his feet were leaden against the shock pace of Archer and he limply offered a catch into the slips.
Had Australia been bowled out, many would be advocating a change come Thursday ‘s third Test at Headingley.
The Victorian Marcus Harris was desperately unlucky not to play from Edgbaston, especially after such a prolific 1,000-run Sheffield Shield season in 2018-19.
The South African born Labuschange will almost certainly replace Smith at Headingley. He has poise and grit.
The fast bowling personnel will almost certainly also change. Only pace leader and vice-captain Pat Cummins is a certainty given his six wickets at Lord’s.
Josh Hazlewood impressed early but went wicketless in the second innings. Peter Siddle had little luck but momentarily gave Australia hope late on Saturday night with
the dismissals of Ashes newcomers Joe Denly and Rory Burns. He was the least successful and the unluckiest of the trio at Lord’s having had three catches grassed.
James Pattinson must be reinstated and maybe Mitchell Starc should also play. Like Harris, he has been desperately unlucky not to have played in either of the first two Tests.