Justin Langer, the Australia coach, has said he is “really curious” about how Jofra Archer will fare in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, given he has played just one first-class game in a year.
The recurrence of a calf injury has sidelined James Anderson for the second Test, paving the way for Archer to make his Test debut. The paceman has 131 wickets in 28 first-class matches for Sussex, and will be expected to nullify the threat of Steve Smith, but his last first-class outing was in September 2018 against Warwickshire.
He did play with the red ball for Sussex Second XI against Gloucestershire Second XI ahead of the Lord’s Test, taking an easy 6-27 and scoring 108, but Langer has sought to warn him that the grind of Test cricket will be something else altogether.“I’m really curious about how Archer is going to go,” said Langer. “He’s played one red-ball game in 11 months. He’s a very skilled bowler and a great athlete. But Test cricket is very different to white-ball cricket.
“Like we’ve talked about a long time, we’ve got to keep wearing him down, and get him back into his second or third and fourth spells. [I’m] just curious how he’s going to go, like you are with all fast bowlers.”
Australia eased to a 251-run win in the first Test, but Langer insisted discipline was essential now more than ever. “We talk about humility as one of our values,” said Langer.
“Like I keep going back, we did not come here to win the Edgbaston Test, we’ve not come here to get a hundred at Lord’s. We’ve come here to win the Ashes, to be the leading run-scorer in the Ashes, and if you do that, it helps us win the Ashes; to be the leading wicket-taker in the whole Ashes and not just have a good Test.
“Everyone’s got to contribute. That’s why we are deliberately recognising that, ‘OK we won the first Test match, that’s great. But now we’ve got to win the second Test’. All our efforts will go into that.”
Langer also spoke of the flak copped by Smith and David Warner – the Edgbaston crowd didn’t miss an opportunity to remind them of their role in the ball-tampering episode last year – and said that both players had their own ways of coping with it all.
“He [Smith] slept the last few days, which was good,” said Langer. “They’re still copping a bit. I thought it’s what we expected since we have been here. The boys are handling it well. Davey’s humour at Edgbaston was nice. He’s handling it as well as anyone.
“Steve Smith came in and showed with his batting how he’s handling it. I keep saying this: There’s nothing you can do about that, just keep smiling and keep concentrating on what you’ve got to concentrate on and it is what it is.”