Archer stealing Harmer's thunder in England
Jofra Archer is the flavour of the moment in English men’s cricket but he has a way to go to match the leading bowler in the country.
Off-spinner Simon Harmer‚ the South African who captains first-division Essex‚ has claimed 65 wickets — which includes seven five-wicket hauls and two of 10 wickets — at an average of 18.18 and an economy rate of 2.57 in 11 county championship matches.
And there are more players lighting up county cricket where Harmer came from.
Dane Vilas cracked this highest score in England this season‚ a career-best 266 off 240 balls‚ for Lancashire in their second-division game against Glamorgan in Colwyn Bay on Monday.
Vilas hit 35 fours and six sixes in an innings that started when Lancashire were 137/4. They were 539/9 on their way to a total of 545 — which helped them win by an innings and 150 runs — when he was bowled by medium pacer David Lloyd.
Dwaine Pretorius put in a reasonable T20 performance for Northamptonshire‚ scoring 139 runs in six innings and taking five wickets — although at the expensive economy rate of 8.28.
But he raised his game significantly in his first championship match for the second-division side this week‚ scoring 111 against a Worcestershire attack that included Wayne Parnell and Moeen Ali and doing his but in Northants 10-wicket win.
None of which has caught much of the spotlight‚ which is being hogged by Archer‚ who claimed match figures of 5/91 on debut for England in the second Test against Australia at Lord’s‚ which ended on Sunday.
But that’s not why the Bajan-born and raised fast bowler is hitting the headlines hard.
Rather‚ it’s because he’s making a habit of hitting batters even harder with his express deliveries.
Archer put the skids under South Africa’s World Cup campaign by smacking Hashim Amla on the grille of his helmet‚ via the edge of Amla’s bat‚ in the opening match of the tournament at the Oval.
Amla returned after retiring hurt but missed South Africa’s next two matches.
On Saturday at Lord’s‚ Archer felled Steve Smith with a blow to the neck that concussed the Australian and has ruled him out for the third Test at Headingley‚ which starts on Thursday.
Archer also hit Marnus Labuschagne‚ who became cricket’s first ever concussion replacement when he stood in for Smith in the second innings‚ but did not injure him.
But former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding has offered batters hope with his view that Archer won’t be around for long if England don’t ease his workload.
“Archer bowled a third of all the overs bowled‚” Holding was quoted as saying in an interview with the Independent.
“That’s a spinner’s quota.”
Archer sent down 44 of the 142 overs England bowled in the match: significantly less than the 27.3 assigned to Jack Leach‚ the home side’s first-choice slow bowler.
Part-time spinner Joe Root and Joe Denly had three overs between them‚ which means Archer bowled 23.3 more overs than the three spinners combined.
“If you keep bowling him like this you will lose the 96 miles-per-hour [154.5 kilometres-an-hour]‚” Holding was quoted as saying.
“He’ll still bowl fast‚ 90 mph [144.8 kmh]‚ 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.”
Holding held up Kagiso Rabada‚ who has been hampered by back injuries and was flat and ineffective at the World cup‚ as a cautionary tale against over-bowling.
“It’s abuse‚” Holding said.
“When I was bowling‚ we had three other quicks just as fast. We could share the burden.
“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.”