England’s batsmen have the chance to take control of the third Ashes Test after Jofra Archer proved he has another string to his bow with a classy six for 45 at Headingley.
Only 52.1 overs were possible on a rain-affected opening day in Yorkshire, but with Archer in tow that was enough to topple the tourists for 179 as the 24-year-old further underlined his growing star status in just his second appearance at this level.
If the home side’s top seven can apply themselves correctly on day two, when conditions are expected to be considerably more batsman-friendly, Archer’s contribution could go from being a personal milestone to a match-winning turn.
Having bowled with ferocious speed on his debut at Lord’s last week, clocking in at 96mph and hitting three different batsman on the head, including Steve Smith, absent here with the resulting concussion, he channelled a different set of skills this time.
Recasting himself as an old-fashioned seam bowler he settled into a rhythm that was brisk but not express and repeatedly drew mistakes.
In the end his maiden five-for comprised four outside edges, a deflection into the stumps and an lbw to wrap things up just before the close at 7.30pm. His intervention saw the tourists lose eight for 43 and turned a sound base of 136 to rubble.
Reflecting on his day’s work, he explained: “I don’t need to run in and bowl 90mph every spell to get wickets. There will be times to ramp it up as well, but you don’t have to go into it every innings.
“This wasn’t a short-ball wicket – I bowled a few, obviously, to let the batter know they are still there – but it wasn’t as hard as Lord’s, so it’s just ‘get it on the full line and length’. That got results.
“Conditions were a little bit bowler friendly, but you’ve still got to bowl the ball in the right areas to get the wickets. That’s what you train hard for.”
It is hard to remember a player who has enjoyed such a rapport with the supporters so early in their career as Archer, though Kevin Pietersen’s strutting early outings against Australia had a similar panache.
There is already a tangible hum around the ground whenever Archer is close to the action and when he gets the ball in his hand the decibel-level soars.
Barbados-born to a Liverpudlian father, and three years on from swapping Bridgetown for Hove, he certainly feels at home.
“The support is heartwarming. Whenever I walk to my mark everyone cheers, when I get a wicket it’s that much more support. It’s nice to feel welcomed and appreciated,” he said.
Australia’s scorecard made for grim reading barring two solid contributions, 74 from Steve Smith’s concussion stand-in Marnus Labuschagne and 61 from opener David Warner.
The latter somehow emerged unscathed from an early working over by his nemesis, Stuart Broad, to scrap his way to a dicey 61 before he nicked a beauty from Archer to kick off the collapse.
A veteran of 77 Tests over eight years, Warner has seen plenty of pace bowling around the world and reeled off some impressive names as he reflected on Archer’s day one efforts.
“It’s a bit like how Dale Steyn was with the new ball, try to just use the conditions and then ramp it up when they need to. That was world class bowling at its best,” he said.
“It has its challenges, you look at (India’s Jasprit) Bumrah as well…they are all energy at the crease. Mitchell Johnson was the same, he had a slow run up then it was thunderbolts. These guys…it takes getting used to.”