Jofra Archer finds form by dismissing Zak Crawley as Sussex take control against Kent

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jofra Archer of Sussex celebrates prematurely as an lbw appeal against Nathan Gilchrist of Kent is turned down during the LV= Insurance County Championship match between Sussex and Kent at The 1st Central County Ground on May 13, 2021 in Hove, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Jofra Archer of Sussex celebrates prematurely as an lbw appeal against Nathan Gilchrist of Kent is turned down during the LV= Insurance County Championship match between Sussex and Kent at The 1st Central County Ground on May 13, 2021 in Hove, England. - GETTY IMAGES

It was a delivery to gladden the hearts of all English cricket fans, barring the most partisan Kent supporters. From the 24th ball of his first-class comeback, Jofra Archer found a perfect cocktail of pace, bounce and late away movement - angling the ball into Zak Crawley locating an awkward length, and then seaming it away from the edge.

It was a perfect distillation of Archer’s qualities and set the seal on a day in which Archer continued his return from injury by delivering 13 high-quality overs. He then said that he was recovering well from his elbow injury, handing England a boost ahead of the two-Test series against New Zealand which begins on June 2.

“My fitness is fine, I thought I bowled okay,” Archer said after taking 2-29. “I played in the second team last week and it’s good to get some confidence and rhythm.”

While Sussex do not have a Championship game next week, Archer believes he is now match-fit to play Test cricket again, though in practice - given the grueling international schedule this year - England may well prefer to delay his international return.

“I don’t know what the plan for us is gonna be. Next week is a week off - ideally you’d have wanted to play next week and then have a week off and then join the bubble. I honestly don’t know.

“If I’m fit, I guess I will play and if I’m not I will work hard and get back - simple.”

Archer also said that he was happy to enter another biosecure bubble during the international summer. “You don’t feel it anymore to be honest.”

After whisking off his jumper on a chilly morning by the seaside, Archer glided in with the easy rhythm and pace from a deceptively gentle run-up that makes him one of the most feared fast bowlers in the world. Before he had even conceded a run he had his first wicket, as bounce and away movement induced Daniel Bell-Drummond to edge to second slip.

The only shame was that the contest with Crawley, his England team-mate, was so short. Crawley played an elegant flick through midwicket to score the first boundary of the day, but had no riposte to what Archer delivered two balls later. It was a wicket that Archer particularly savoured.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

“Usually I bowl to Zak Crawley in the nets and I have done that quite a bit. Obviously, you’re never out in the nets so it was good to get him out here.”

Archer was handled shrewdly by Ben Brown, Sussex’s captain. Rather than be over-exerted, Archer was limited to a four-over spell with the new ball, which he then followed up with a second spell of four overs and then a third and final spell of five, either side of a delay for rain.

It is, surely, a template from which England could borrow in Test cricket. Entrust Archer with the new ball - rather than as first change, as he was for the bulk of last summer - and use him in short and snappy spells.

But Sussex would be advised to enjoy this glimpse of Archer while they can: it was his first County Championship game since September 2018, before he had made his England debut.

His opening partner for Sussex, Ollie Robinson, could soon join him in the Test team. Robinson once again combined immaculate control with good pace and a sliver of movement: such is his standing in county cricket now that a haul of 3-29 from 18 overs, which helped bowl Kent out for just 145, is merely the sort of relentless excellence that is taken as a given.

Elsewhere, on a day decimated by rain, with no play at all in three games, England’s northernmost County Championship ground saw nearly a full day’s play, with Alex Lees’s 99 helping Durham to a first innings score of 246 against Worcestershire at Chester-le-Street.

Seeking their first win of the season after five consecutive draws, Worcestershire reduced Durham to 136-6. But Lees - who was brilliantly caught by Ben Cox, standing up the stumps, off Joe Leach one short of reaching a second consecutive Championship century - and Brydon Carse, who scored a crucial undefeated 38 from number eight, helped Durham add 110 for the last four wickets. Josh Tongue, Worcestershire’s highly-rated 23-year-old seamer, wrapped up the tail to end with a haul of 5-39, his sixth five-fer in first-class cricket.

Bad light limited Worcestershire’s reply to three overs, but Chris Rushworth and Mark Wood should relish sharing the new ball on the second morning.

At Lord’s, Kyle Abbott took three wickets for Hampshire after a delayed start. It left Middlesex - who have lost four of their previous five games this summer - 90-4 at the close, with their top order once again proving brittle. Australian Peter Handscomb, Middlesex’s captain and overseas player, was bowled first ball by Abbott to continue his own bleak start to the summer: it was his third duck in six Championship innings and he is now averaging five this season.