<
>

'All for bowling fast but I'm here to get wickets' - Jofra Archer

play
Johnson: Archer such an exciting guy to watch (1:40)

After another stunning display from Jofra Archer, Mitchell Johnson fears England are becoming overly reliant on the fast bowler (1:40)

Jofra Archer is so laidback he ought to be interviewed while reclining in one of the famous deckchairs at Hove. The cool cat who brings the heat with ball in hand, Archer seems pretty relaxed when asked to reflect on England's Headingley heist, the Ben Stokes-inspired victory in the third Specsavers Test that not so much kept the Ashes alive as brought them back from the dead.

He admits he was in "a bit of a different state of mind" on Sunday, though. Archer has had an electrifying effect on the series with the ball, taking his maiden five-wicket haul in Leeds, but after missing his chance to make a decisive contribution with the bat in England's record-breaking run chase - holing out to deep square leg to leave his team eight down with 73 still required - he was worried his impact would be remembered for the wrong reasons.

"I wanted to make it less hard work for Ben but I got out," he says, back at Sussex and reflecting on an exhilarating first fortnight in Test cricket. "I thought I had messed the series up, not just the game but the series, so I was actually very, very relieved that we are still alive and fighting.

ALSO READ: Headingley blockbuster gives Stokes career-high ranking

"Your coach always tells you don't leave it for anyone else. I tried to do as much of it as I could. We have all seen enough cricket to know, 80 to win with just one wicket left against the Australian bowling attackā€¦ We were very grateful to be on the winning side, that is all I can say."

So rapidly has Archer turned raw promise into big-game bankability, you have to remind yourself he has only been four months an international cricketer. He has already shown a remarkable maturity to his game, throttling down on speed at Headingley in recognition that conditions were in his favour and he makes for an interesting talker, too - weighing his answers carefully, like the dozen or so steps of his run-up.

He admits that Stokes' feats have given England "a second life in the series", as they attempt to cap an extraordinary summer of cricket with an Ashes and World Cup double. Such was the magnitude of the shock inflicted by that final-wicket stand between Stokes and Jack Leach, Australia's task in trying to win one of the last two Tests in order to retain the urn - an outcome that was within touching distance at Headingley - has been made doubly difficult.

"That is the thing, never get complacent," Archer says. "To be fair to them, 350 runs is a lot of runs. I think anyone else would have been in the same position. The crowd started getting on their backs as well, I think they panicked a bit. They thought they would have rolled us after getting a few quick early wickets but that was it. They did not go through us as they would have wanted and I'm glad we did show some resistance.

"The series is not over. The upcoming games they will think twice. I don't think they will declare now. I don't think they will be too attacking. If they get a draw they will still retain so let's see how the next Test goes. The way they play might be a bit different."

Given there has already been talk about his own workload, he adds that he almost felt sorry for Australia's fast bowlers - before underlining the psychological impact such a gruelling defeat could have. "They were in the field a long time. They got to the second new ball and still couldn't bowl us out. All of those mental facts should sit with them next game."

With the fourth Test a week away, there is a chance for both teams to catch their breath. Steven Smith seems set to return at Old Trafford after missing out at Headingley due to his Archer-induced concussion, and the resumption of their duel will be eagerly awaited. Discussing the blow to the neck that left him on the sidelines, Smith took the opportunity to point out that while Archer had hit him, "he didn't actually get me out", which drew a smiling response.

"Well, I can't get him out if he wasn't there. I did want to bowl at him when he came back out [at Lord's] but he was out before I even got to come back on. But there'll be more than ample time to get him out."

He also reiterated a point made by Chris Woakes before Lord's, that England would be just as happy to pass on Smith's wicket if they can remove 10 other Australians. "I'm not here to get caught up in a contest with one man," Archer says. "I want to win the Ashes."

"When Lyon fumbled the run-out, you could hear a heartbeat in the dressing room. When the scores were level, it was just a big cheer, we knew the series was not over"

There is a sense building that this series has the potential to rival 2005 for the way in which it swept up the country, with cricket once again catapulted on to the front and back pages in the wake of Headingley. Archer says he had "an idea of what to expect" but admitted the intensity of competition against Australia had made for a special atmosphere in only his second Test.

"It was a big turnaround, so many emotions. When [Nathan] Lyon fumbled the run-out, you could hear a heartbeat in the dressing room. When the scores were level, it was just a big cheer. At least we knew the series was not over."

On comparing the game to England's equally unforgettable World Cup final win six weeks prior, he adds: "We had a lot more runs [to get] and a lot less wickets on Sunday. It felt a bit more impossible. Anything can happen in white-ball cricket, you have the Super Over, another chance, but red-ball, there's nothing: if you lose, you lose. There's no extra time."

And what about the need - no, greed - for speed? Archer clocked 96mph/154kph at Lord's, and there will be many onlookers hoping he can raise the roof even higher in Manchester, which has a reputation for being among the quickest, bounciest surfaces in England. Can he bowl faster still? His answer is again indicative of a player with a razor-sharp appreciation of his skillset.

"I'm an optimist so I'll say yes, but if I don't I'm okay. Bowling fast doesn't get people out, you still need to put the ball in the right area. I'm all here for bowling fast but I'm also here to get wickets." It doesn't seem too early to suggest he will end up with plenty.

Specsavers are the official Test partner of the England cricket team. Jofra was speaking to ESPNcricinfo ahead of the fourth Specsavers Ashes Test match