Jofra Archer has admitted fearing he cost England the Ashes after he was caught on the boundary during Sunday’s pulsating finish at Headingley – but says it was Australia who ended up panicking.
Archer was mocked by the Australian fielders after his attempted swipe for six off Nathan Lyon was caught at deep midwicket by Travis Head, leaving England 286 for eight as they chased 359 to square the series.
Thanks to the heroics of Ben Stokes and Jack Leach, they managed to do just that, but Archer’s dismissal for 15 appeared to spell the beginning of the end.
Jofra Archer is back at Hove as he tries to make sense of the end to the Headingley Test match
England’s new fast-bowling wunderkind says Australia panicked in the final few overs
‘I wanted to make it less hard work for Ben, but I got out,’ he said. ‘I thought I had messed the series up – not just the game but the series, so I am very relieved that we are still alive and fighting.
‘Your coach always tells you, don’t leave it for anyone else. I tried to do as much of it as I could.
‘We have all seen enough cricket to know 80 to win with just one wicket left against the Australian bowling attack… we were very grateful to be on the winning side, that is all I can say.’
A few days on from arguably the greatest finish Test cricket has ever seen, England’s new fast-bowling wunderkind was still trying to make sense of it all as he sat in the pavilion at Hove, home of his county side Sussex.
Archer feared he had cost England their shot at levelling the series and saving the Ashes
All was peaceful outside, a world away from the Headingley mayhem, where the crowd was going berserk and the Australians were giving him grief.
‘Yes, terrible chat,’ Archer confirmed. ‘Nothing to worry about. It made me laugh. I think it was either Paine or Wade, but someone said: “That is a great shot, Jof.”
‘If it did go for six, it would have been. All I can say is we got over the line. It doesn’t matter how many wickets we won by. It doesn’t matter how we got there. The point was that we did.’
And Archer believes Australia’s agonising near miss could affect the way they approach next week’s fourth Test in Manchester.
‘Never get complacent,’ he said. ‘To be fair to them, 350 runs is a lot. But the crowd started getting on their backs, and I think they panicked a bit.
Archer was caught on the midwicket boundary as he tried to hit Nathan Lyon into the crowd
Archer was mocked by the Australian fielders as he made his way from the crease
‘They thought they would have rolled us after getting a few quick early wickets but they did not go through us.
‘The upcoming games they will think twice. I don’t think they will declare now. I don’t think they will be too attacking. The way they play might be a bit different.’
Archer has already made some telling interventions during an Ashes series beautifully poised at 1-1 going into Wednesday’s game.
First he marked his Test debut by hitting Steve Smith on the helmet at Lord’s, forcing him out of Australia’s second innings and the whole of the third Test.
Then he followed five wickets there with eight at Headingley, including first-innings figures of six for 45.
With Smith set to return at Old Trafford, the battle between the world’s best Test batsman and most exciting fast bowler will add yet more spice to an already fiery series. Is Archer looking forward to bowling to him again? ‘Yes, why wouldn’t I be?’
Archer is looking forward to facing Steve Smith, who he hit at Lord’s, in the fourth Test
Archer was concerned enough after hitting Smith at Lord’s to visit the Australian dressing-room, but he had already gone for a scan.
And he responded to Smith’s suggestion on Wednesday that Archer was yet to dismiss him with a smile and a shrug: ‘Well, I can’t get him out if he wasn’t there.’
JOFRA’S NO 22 WAS KIESWETTER TRIBUTE
Jofra Archer revealed that he came to be wearing the No22 shirt during the World Cup because it once belonged to England white-ball batsman Craig Kieswetter.
Archer had attended the 2010 World T20 final in his home town of Barbados, where England were playing Australia.
Each of his schoolmates chose a player to identify with and changed their Facebook name accordingly, and Archer chose Kieswetter – who was named man of the match after his 63 off 49 balls helped England to a seven-wicket win.
‘When someone asked what number I wanted, I didn’t know if Kieswetter had retired,’ said Archer.
‘I probably would have rung him up and asked him if he could do me the honour, but he actually had [retired], so there was no need to.’
The mood now is of a bowler on a mission to complete the greatest summer in the history of English cricket by making it a World Cup-Ashes double.
Fretting about a moment that briefly took spectators back to the Phillip Hughes tragedy in November 2014 is not going to help anyone.
‘We’ve got a job on our hands,’ said Archer. ‘I’ve seen him around, but you’re not going to sit and pull a chair and have a deep conversation, are you?’
Archer has been an international cricketer for barely four months, but throw in the World Cup and he has already had more endorphin rushes than some players experience in a lifetime.
‘I still watch the World Cup highlights,’ he said. ‘But all I can say is that Headingley game was special. When Lyon fumbled the run-out, you could hear a heartbeat in the dressing-room.
‘It just shows our fight: no one rolled over and played dead, everyone wanted to win, even the No 11 was very keen to get stuck in.
‘He will be called upon again at some point in the series. We got a taste of what is like to win from nowhere, so I guess we can take that on with us.’
Archer enjoys a swig from a bottle of beer as he takes in the aftermath of the Headingley finale
Specsavers are the Official Test Partner of the England cricket team. Jofra Archer was speaking ahead of the fourth Specsavers Ashes Test match.