After the drama and pure adrenaline of the World Cup, England are riding on a high. However, their attentions will now turn to the Ashes and resuming hostilities with Australia, with Edgbaston the first battleground for the Tests series.
For cricket purists, the Test format remains the pinnacle of the game and getting their hands on the little urn will be on the forefront of Joe Root and co's minds following their humiliation Down Under last year.
England have named a 14-man squad and Jofra Archer has been called up to the Test squad for the first time.
Archer can hit the target
While Test cricket is a different beast to the other formats of the game, Archer makes pace bowling look effortless and he usually clocks around 95mph. The 24-year-old knows how to nip the ball around the surface and his variety could cause problems for the Aussie top order. At present, Archer is being fancied by the Betfair Exchange to make a serious impression in the Ashes and he is trading at [4.30] to be England's top series wicket taker in the series.
Mark Wood thinks Archer's potency is clear for all to see and he recently said: “It's exciting and frustrating because he makes it look so easy. I have to nearly break my back to get it as fast as him and he's got no problems cranking it up.
“He adds something slightly different to me because it looks like effortless pace and it surprises people at how quick he is. Couple that with the bounce and the movement he gets and he seems to have all bases covered.”
The Ashes can sometimes make or break a cricketer, but it is also a massive opportunity that has to be grabbed with both hands. The series will be decided by key moments and the tighter the bowling is to restrict scoring chances, this will also play a role. Archer has the maturity to cope with the demands of Test cricket. However coming from a more ODI background, England coach Trevor Bayliss has intimated that the Sussex man, who missed the narrow win over Ireland last week with a side strain, could be taken out of the firing line for the first Test.
He said: “We don't want to necessarily risk him. He played for Sussex in a T20 match and came through that well. Test match cricket, five days, longer spells, is a little bit of a different beast so we'll have to see where he's at and take a little bit from the medical people as well … We've got a good strong group of bowlers who we think can do the job over the five Tests.”
In the last Ashes series, Steve Smith was a constant thorn for England and he top scored with 687 runs at an average of over 137. England are slight favourites ahead of Australia to win the series at [2.00]. While the onus will be on Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad to deliver as the experienced pacemen, Archer is fearless and he can make a name for himself over the coming month.
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