Kevin Pietersen, who had more than his fair share of run-ins with the England management and media during his playing days, has urged the setup to ‘look after’ Jofra Archer in order to help ‘get the best out of him’.
The South African-born Pietersen, a foreigner in the England setup himself, learnt a lot of cricket in South Africa before switching allegiance, similar to Archer, who arrived in the country from Barbados.
Pietersen has in the past claimed that he was often singled out by the media and team management, and expressed concerns that the same thing might happen with Archer. “Britain is meant to be this place that encourages and looks after everybody — but Archer is copping it at the moment, and probably because he’s from the Caribbean,” Pietersen said in an interview with The Daily Mail.
“Joe Root has to be careful with his quicker men. Jofra Archer was a little bit bowled into the ground in New Zealand, he’s now got a bit of an elbow issue. Fast bowlers are like gold dust.”#SAvENGhttps://t.co/vPzNJRJF5l
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 19, 2020
“I learned to live with it, but you media guys are responsible, not the player,” Pietersen continued. “You drive the perception of him. Jofra just does what Jofra does. And they should be dealing with it.
“Everyday guys were hammering me, bashing me, and I can see it beginning with Jofra at the moment. And it’s not cool because it affects the person, it affects his career. It’s not how England is supposed to be.”
Pietersen feels that the England management should focus their energies in making Archer feel more comfortable and giving him more freedom that would enable him to play at his best. “If there’s a different character, it’s a problem. We are talking about ‘they’ here, and I don’t know who exactly ‘they’ are — but ‘they’ should be doing more to get the best out of him,” he said.
Since World War 1, no English Test bowler has taken as many wickets as Jofra Archer has (22) at a better average (17.27)@patnoonecricket analyses perhaps the finest performance of Archer’s nascent Test career.@cricvizanalyst | #Asheshttps://t.co/klEXQKbvBP
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 13, 2019
“Deal with the player. First question: does he want to play Test cricket? If I was in that environment, that’s what I would ask. ‘Dude, do you want to play Test cricket or not? Because if you don’t, that’s no problem. Tell us, it’s absolutely fine. I’ll use you like we did in the World Cup, to win a World Cup that united the nation, produced a huge day for English sport, ended up with English cricket winning huge awards on BBC Sports Personality of the Year. I’ll use you there. You don’t have to play Test cricket’.
“But it becomes trial by media, and that affects him, his relationship with the players, the coach and management. So what if he doesn’t want to play Test cricket? Whose life is it? It’s not The Sun’s life, it’s not the Daily Mail’s life, it’s not a bloke who lives in Scunthorpe’s life. It’s Jofra Archer’s life, his family’s life. Look after the individual.”
“Not just me – all the bowlers were made to look a bit slower than I believe they really are.”
Jofra Archer thinks the quicks in Hamilton were short-changed by the speed gun.https://t.co/8OH0DXAwxU
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) December 8, 2019
Archer made a name for himself in his debut Test series – the 2019 Ashes, where he bowled with fearsome pace to take 22 wickets at 20.27. While he had hit speeds of over 155 kmph during that series, he failed to consistently hit 140 kmph during the tour of New Zealand. Archer suggested that speed gun during that series may have been faulty, perhaps in response to criticism from some quarters.
Pietersen cautioned that becoming overtly critical of Archer in the media might take a toll on the player and it may result in him being prematurely lost to English cricket.
“The situation with Archer could escalate. You guys can get a story that lasts a long time, but is he going to win? No. Does English cricket win? No. We might lose him from all cricket. He might decide ‘stuff you guys’ and just go and play franchise cricket.”