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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Jofra Archer can be England’s weapon against Steve Smith: Mike Gatting

Gatting, who expects the upcoming Ashes Tests to deliver results, said England have an uphill task. They had lost the first Test by 251 runs.

cricket Updated: Aug 09, 2019 08:34 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Jofra Archer checks the ball during the first Test at Edgbaston.
Jofra Archer checks the ball during the first Test at Edgbaston. (Action Images via Reuters)
         

While England frets over James Anderson’s unavailability and Moeen Ali’s form, the inclusion of Jofra Archer for the second Ashes Test starting August 14 at Lord’s might ‘threaten’ Australian batting mainstay Steve Smith, according to former England captain Mike Gatting.

“We have not seen him (Jofra Archer) bowl much with the red ball—the way he swings it,” Gatting said at the launch of Aditya Bhushan and Sachin Bajaj’s book ‘Fortune Turners’ on the famed Indian spin quartet of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and Srinivas Venkataraghavan here on Thursday evening.

“The pace is certainly there. Maybe because he bowls wicket-to-wicket he could be one of the guys who might threaten Steve Smith. If he gets (the ball) around the off-stump nipping just a bit with speed of 90 miles an hour… he is in such good nick (that) he might have an impact,” Gatting said.

READ | Steve Smith to captain again after leadership ban ends? Cricket Australia chief has his say

He added that England must ensure Anderson is fully fit before he is thrown into the contest again. “The calf muscle is a horrible muscle to pull. Sometimes it tends to flare up again. England just have to make sure it is done and dusted before they draft him back,” he said.

“But Stuart Broad has been bowling well, Jofra Archer is set to come in, so that will make England a good attack. Obviously, Anderson’s experience will be missed.”

Gatting, who expects the upcoming Ashes Tests to deliver results, said England have an uphill task. They had lost the first Test by 251 runs.

“I think England have got a huge hill to climb now. I still think it is going to be an interesting series because every Test match is going to have a result. It is going to be about who does recover quickly after every match,” he said.

The 62-year-old Gatting expressed worries over England’s spin all-rounder Moeen who looked out of sorts at Edgbaston in the opening Test. “For England, they will have to get players finding form soon. What really worries me is Moeen Ali has not bowled very well. It certainly would have been better for him had he bowled well at Edgbaston,” he said.

‘Smith difficult to bowl at’

Smith returned to Test cricket with twin hundreds at Edgbaston, thus paving way for Australia’s first victory at the venue in 18 years. Australia, enjoying the rarity of a 1-0 lead in England, head to Lord’s where they carry a strong record of winning 15 out of 36 Tests while losing only seven and drawing 14.

Amid their poor showings in last two Ashes in England, Australia had also witnessed the high of a 405-run win in 2015 which was powered by Smith’s 215.

READ | ‘Hard to say when I might play again’ – James Anderson on injury nightmare

Gatting said Smith’s head position is a vital aspect while batting. “He is difficult to bowl at. One thing he does is (he) gets his head still on the off-stump and he is good at manoeuvring the ball around, which is a great skill. And yes, without doubt, he has made a huge impression this Ashes series. It is just a question of whether we can get him out early,” he said.

“It will actually be interesting to see how Australia cope with that if England can dismiss Smith fairly quickly. I am not saying Australia are not the favourite team but am saying their batting order is slightly fragile. Obviously Australia is in a good place for now.”

‘Booing will die down’

Gatting does not read much into English crowd’s booing the Australian players Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft since their arrival in the country, and expects it to die down.

“Look, I have been back to Australia and you get booed for nothing over there. Remember, Stuart Broad got booed for not walking at Nottingham and that made a huge story about not walking and stayed right through the series. As the summer goes on, I suspect it might die down at the end. At the moment, what they are doing to Australia, it is not nice. But I do not think the Australians will be bothered about it too much,” he said.

‘Kohli deserves the tag of a great’

Gatting said India captain Virat Kohli deserves the tag of ‘great’ given his exploits across all three formats. “He has said Test cricket for him, if you have to be regarded as a great player, you have to play Test cricket. This is fantastic. The fact that he plays all forms of cricket with greatness that I don’t think you see from a lot of other people and possibly might not,” he said.

“Yes, Kane Williamson is very good now. Yes, Steve Smith has reignited his career and his ability to play one-day cricket but to see someone like Virat perform so regularly and so well in all three formats, he does deserve that tag of great without doubt,” Gatting said.

Gatting, who captained England in 23 Tests from 1986-88 welcomed the idea of player jerseys sporting their numbers and names. “If you want people to come to watch cricket and to understand which players is standing where, having names on it just like one-dayers, I am not totally against it. You have to change with the time. I am not that fussy about it. I know it’s not traditional stuff but sometimes you have to cater to a new spectator,” he said.

First Published: Aug 09, 2019 08:30 IST

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