Cricket Expert & Columnist
Jofra Archer pace will test Steve Smith, says Michael Atherton
"Archer looks a nightmare to face because he gets tight to the stumps and gets his pace from jogging in. "
Last Updated: 10/08/19 1:56pm
Michael Atherton says Jofra Archer's express pace will give England an added dimension and thoroughly test Steve Smith in the second Ashes Test at Lord's.
England tumbled 1-0 down in the five-match series at Edgbaston last week following a 251-run defeat, with Smith notching a century in each innings.
Archer - who bowled the Super Over when England beat New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord's last month - is set for his Test bow from Wednesday, in place of the injured James Anderson.
"The biggest change is Archer coming into the team," Atherton said of England, who have also omitted the out-of-form Moeen Ali and picked left-arm spinner Jack Leach in a 12-man squad.
"Smith has run riot against England over the last six Test matches when they have hit him with a diet of right-arm medium pace - they haven't had any pace in their ranks at all.
"Suddenly they are going to get Archer, who is fast, and that is going to be the test for Smith.
"Archer looks a nightmare to face because he gets tight to the stumps and gets his pace from jogging in.
"Any little glitch in your technique is exaggerated if the bowler is tight in, plus if someone tears in - like Allan Donald - you are kind of ready for it, get a nice view of the ball, but Archer ambles in and it looks devastating.
"The biggest challenge for him in Test cricket will be the physical aspect of the game - we saw in the World Cup that he is going to cope with the mental side of the game, the expectation, the pressure.
"Test cricket is physically demanding for fast bowlers, there may be two days in the field. With four Tests to come in about 38 days, how will he cope with that?"
England have dropped Ali after the off-spinning all-rounder took match figures of 3-172 and scored just four runs in two innings at Edgbaston.
"I understand the change for all kinds of reasons," added Atherton.
"Ali struggled against Australia in the last series over there and in the first Test at Edgbaston here, while his record overall against Australia with bat and ball is far worse than against other countries.
"On that fourth day [at Edgbaston] he was unable to either be a threat on a worn pitch or keep the run rate down.
"Nathan Lyon is also all over him and as I know to my cost when a bowler keeps getting you out it gets into your head and affects your confidence.
"I would urge a word of caution over the expectation on Leach, though.
"People are saying left-arm spin gets Smith out but that is often in the subcontinent against really high-class operators like Rangana Herath when the ball is spitting like a cobra and turning big.
"Facing Leach at Lord's is not going to be like that, while Leach has hardly played in first-class cricket of late because of the way the fixture list is structured."
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