Former Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has likened Jofra Archer to one of the great battery of West Indian pacemen of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s.
Lehmann, who resigned as the Australian team coach in March 2018 following the sandpapergate scandal at the Cape Town Test, was back in Yorkshire last week not only to watch on at Headingley, but also to discuss next summer’s Hundred squad which will be based in Leeds where he will be head coach.
A hugely popular figure at Yorkshire where he is regarded by far as the county’s best overseas player (more than 8,000 first-class runs and 26 hundreds at 68.76), Lehmann has noticed something extraordinary about Archer’s devastating speed.
“He’s exciting, has talent and is fun to watch,” he said. “He’s a bit like the old West Indies attack when they had Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.
“Archer can turn a game quite quickly and is an impact player, like we had in Mitchell Johnson. Everyone has fear about facing fast bowling. You wouldn’t be human if you did not. So Australia’s batsmen have to be sharper and make good decisions and quick ones. The important thing now is that all our batsmen have faced Archer and know what’s coming.
“There’s a lot of hype about him and he’s done a good thing by swinging the momentum back in England’s favour. Their coach Trevor Bayliss said this week that one Test match doesn’t make a summer and remember it was a drawn Test and our blokes hung in OK.”
Archer’s frightening bouncer that felled Steve Smith at Lord’s, forcing him to miss the Leeds Test because of concussion, has inevitably weakened Australia’s batting. Lehmann hopes Smith makes a quick recovery.
“Steve will go down as one of the greatest batters Australia have ever produced,” he said. “He’s one of the best, if not the best in recent decades. His thirst for runs is second to none and, his year off has probably refreshed him. He’s ruthless and Steve is like a surgeon. He just dissects the opposition.
“He knows how they’re trying to get him out but he negates that. Steve works it out early, sees the ball well and, while he has a different technique, when he hits the ball, he’s in a good position.”
“Everyone’s talking about Archer, but the Australian pace attack has a good enough armoury to get 20 wickets and England’s batting has been fragile,” he said. “Our fast bowlers have been outstanding and yet no one is making a big deal about it.
“And then we have Nathan Lyon. He’s the best spinner in the game. It’s a big plus. If the wickets have any turn, which they do in England at this time of year, Nathan can exploit that. I was impressed a bit with Jack Leach at Lord’s, but Lyon had the edge over him and that’s why I favour Australia a little more. ”
As he plans for The Hundred – the squad will be known as Northern Superchargers – Lehmann is thrilled to be returning. “The years at Yorkshire were fantastic for me,” he said. “They made me as a cricketer. When I first rocked up, you had to train in whites, be freshly shaven and no earrings. I had earrings and a beard and I got fined every day in my first month, but I can’t thank Yorkshire enough.
“Scoring that 339 was a proud individual moment as I was scoring runs in the one-day stuff (5,229 runs, eight hundreds, average 49.33), but winning the County Championship in 2001, the first in more than 30 years, was memorable and any team success far outweighs any individual success. The pressure of being an overseas player and having to win games for such a traditional and proud county was something special.”
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