Jofra Archer is a menace to batsmen, and Jonny Bairstow has revealed that keeping wickets to the express paceman isn’t much easier.
On his Test debut at Lord’s, Archer made quite an impression, taking five wickets while subjecting the Australian batsmen to intense spells of the short stuff. The pace of his bowling, however, has been equally felt by Bairstow, who kept to Archer for the first time and said his hands took “a pounding”.
“Technically, it was a great challenge keeping to him, and I love it because it makes you feel alive,” Bairstow wrote in his column for The Telegraph. “You keep wicket because you constantly want to be involved in the game, and when Jofra is bowling you know that you will have to be prepared for anything to happen.
Most 90 mph deliveries bowled by an English bowler in a single Test match:
1. @JofraArcher v Australia, 2019 – 54
2. Andrew Flintoff v India, 2008 – 52
3. Steve Harmison v Australia, 2006 – 49
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) August 19, 2019
“He can beat people on the outside and the inside edge. He has skills taking the ball away from the right-hander and the left-hander so you know you are in the hunt for an edge.”
Bairstow said Archer was the quickest bowler he has kept wickets to, and pointed out that, apart from the pace with which he bowls, the challenge with Archer is the bounce he extracts. “Batsmen struggle to pick up his bouncer,” said Bairstow. “It is easier for a ‘keeper. You have more time to pick up the line.
“The key thing is judging your depth for where you stand. You are constantly reviewing it throughout the game, reacting to the hardness of the ball and the pitch, and as keeper it is your responsibility to set the depth because the slips take their lead from you. There were a couple that did not carry and a couple that flew over my head so getting the distances right was very difficult.”
Bairstow believed ‘keeping at Headingley, for the third Test, beginning on August 22, would be similar to Lord’s, but added that reverse swing could be an added factor. “I doubt if it will wobble as much, but that depends on overhead and ground conditions,” he said. “There might be a little bit of reverse, because of how dry the square is at the moment. That will be another challenge.”