England paceman Jofra Archer tipped to roar back in South Africa

England bowler Jofra Archer endured a tough time in the Test series in New Zealand, claiming just two wickets at a cost of 209 runs. Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty
England bowler Jofra Archer endured a tough time in the Test series in New Zealand, claiming just two wickets at a cost of 209 runs. Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty
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England head coach Chris Silverwood expects Jofra Archer to find South Africa a happier hunting ground than New Zealand and has challenged the paceman to make his mark on the forthcoming Test series.

The tourists capped their first full day in Johannesburg by watching team-mate Ben Stokes become BBC Sports Personality of the Year but were back to the hard yards yesterday morning, putting themselves through a three-hour training session in 29-degree heat at Benoni’s 
Willowmoore Park.

Archer batted and took part in fielding drills but did not bowl due to a cold, though Silverwood’s description of his ailment as “a little bit of a sniffle” suggests it is a minor 

England have yet to rule him in or out of the two-day warm-up which begins at the same venue today but, as the game against a Cricket South Africa invitational side is not restricted to 11-a-side, they have the option to use all of their bowling options sparingly.

By the time the four-Test series gets under way on Boxing Day, though, expect Archer to be firmly in the thick of things and eager to put his lethargic outings against the Black Caps – against whom he claimed two wickets at a cost of 209 runs – behind him.

The same stubborn Kookaburra ball awaits but, on traditionally livelier surfaces, Silverwood has nudged the seamer to keep finding new answers as he gets to grips with the demands of touring life.

“I think he’ll get more out of the pitches than in New Zealand. There’s usually a bit more bounce here which I think will encourage him,” said Silverwood, pictured inset.

“Everything’s got to be a big challenge for him. So we try and challenge him constantly behind the scenes, setting little targets and things like that.

“He’s still very young into his international career, especially his Test career, and it’s the first time he’s come across those (New Zealand) conditions. So did I expect him to have all the answers? No I didn’t, and I think it’d be wrong of me if I did.

“But he will learn and he’s got some good people around him that he can learn from. We will continue talking to him. And Joe Root is continually learning what’s the best way of captaining him as well. It’ll be a thing we’ll all work together on.”

One particularly eye-catching prospect is Archer taking the field alongside James Anderson. The pair have yet to line up together for England, Anderson’s calf injury having sidelined him ever since the younger man made his bow, but will surely do so in the coming weeks.

The men are separated by 13 years and 146 Test caps but this winter the country’s star bowler of years gone by and the man likeliest to shoulder the burden in the future are ready to share the stage.

“You’ve got a guy with 500-plus Test wickets and then a youngster there with all that pace. I am excited, to be honest with you,” said Silverwood.

An athlete less committed than Anderson might have taken the easy road to retirement after a serious setback at the age of 37 but he joined Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood in an advance party that trained at Potchefstroom for two weeks to prepare for the Proteas.

“He’s in fantastic physical condition. Watching him in the nets it looks like he’s right in rhythm, he looks strong and he’s doing what Jimmy does with the ball. He gets wickets,” said Silverwood.

“To have him and Stuart Broad, that’s 1,000 wickets there and there’s a lot of experience for them to pass on to the rest of the bowlers. That’s what they’ve been doing: leading, talking to everyone, passing on knowledge.”

Root ended a sequence of indifferent form by signing off against the Kiwis with an epic 226 and he was the last player to leave the nets, finally making way after an extended solo outing.

“You don’t get as good as he does without practising,” 
added Silverwood.

“He’s very hungry, he’s determined but more importantly for me he looks like he’s enjoying himself. We’ve got that 
mischievous Root back, which is fantastic.”