Jofra Archer and Mark Wood add new dimension to England’s pace attack

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood add new dimension to England’s pace attack

Two English fast bowlers tearing in at over 90mph terrorising batsmen made for spectacular viewing in Southampton.

Four months ago in the Caribbean, Eoin Morgan’s side faced a barrage of bouncers as a fearsome West Indies pace attack bowled them to a 2-2 one-day international series draw.

Put into full context, it was the first ODI series England had failed to win in 11 against a full member side, a record stretching back to March 2017.

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When England were blown away for just 113 in the final 50-over match at Bridgetown, more than anything it seemed to expose the aching need for more than just the express pace of Mark Wood at the top of the bowling line up.

“England have been the No.1 team in the world for a while but one potential chink in their armour was their potency with the new ball,” former Director of England cricket Andrew Strauss told Sky Sports.

“Often it did not make a massive difference but the one thing the West Indies series in the Caribbean was a really good illustration of is – if you have not got another gear with the ball and you have a world class batsman batting against you, sometimes you can feel very impotent.

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“With Jofra Archer coming in and Mark Wood at full fitness and his confidence levels high, England have got an extra gear.

“They are a match, if not even better, than anyone in world right now and they are the final piece in a jigsaw for me in what was already a very good one-day team.”

The introduction of Archer since May has undoubtedly added a new dimension to England’s bowling line-up.

In tandem, Archer and Wood have accounted for just over 40 per cent of the wickets England have taken in the first four matches of the World Cup.

With much of the talk ahead of the Friday’s match up concentrating on Archer facing up against the country of his birth, the 24-year-old once more showed little signs of being affected by the pressure of the big stage or great moments.

“Today Archer rattled the West indies,” Strauss added. “Chris Gayle got a couple in and around the ribs which he looked very uncomfortable with and I don’t think he ever quite settled after that.

“Shai Hope was in real trouble, he was struggling to pick up the ball and the message that sends to the dressing room is that we are struggling out here.

“Even though Archer did not get wickets in his new ball spell, the combination of him and Wood at the back end of the innings was like dynamite and was very impressive.

“These two are up there with the Brett Lee and Shoaib Malik’s of the world and there is no batsman in the world that would like to face bowling like that.”

For Nasser Hussain, it was the final Test match in the West Indies that showed England and Morgan the true value of adding as much pace as possible to the side.

Having lost the first two red-ball matches against Jason Holder’s team, Wood was brought in and a sensational spell saw him claim his maiden Test five-wicket haul, finishing with figures of 5-41 from just 8.2 overs.

In the ODI series that followed, Wood was the leading seam wicket-taker and the most economical of all England’s bowlers as a lengthened run-up offered a reminder of his talents.

“England saw how Wood bowled in the final Test match in St Lucia and saw the effect of raw pace on fine batsmen,” Hussain told Sky Sports.

“I asked the question when England picked their World Cup squad: could you pick Archer and Wood in the same side without dismantling everything that has gone before?

“They have answered that question. At this stage of the tournament England are ahead of the curve, they realised just bowling line and length in this country you disappear – use extra pace and the short ball if you have got it.

“They had it with Wood, they added it with Archer and they have got them both in the team. If that means going against what you have had all along, so be it.

“There’s a lot of focus in on the pace but as we have seen in Southampton, pace is not everything – pace with skill, Archer’s skill from how close to the stumps he bowls, how he targets them.

“Wood can keep the pressure on and not bowl any rubbish, he’s lengthened his run up, taken pressure off his body and he is definitely a better bowler since then.


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