Eoin Morgan has insisted he has no concerns about Jofra Archer’s enduring motivation to play for England in all three formats, after the bowler himself used his newspaper column to hit back at suggestions – most notably from the former England captain, Michael Vaughan – that he “does not love Test cricket”.
Archer played in the first and third Tests of England’s 3-1 series defeat to India, claiming four wickets at 30.50, a return that was consistent with his current Test average of 31.04. However, having bowled just five overs in the latter match, doubts about his appetite for the longest format resurfaced after he missed the series finale with an elbow injury.
A similar affliction – later diagnosed as a stress fracture – had ruled him out of the back end of England’s tour of South Africa last winter. However, writing in the Daily Mail, Archer stated that the two issues were unrelated, and expressed his annoyance that he seems to be judged more harshly than his team-mates whenever he has a quiet game.
“A lot of people are saying a lot of things about my right elbow, and so as the person the elbow belongs to, I would like to say something in response,” Archer wrote. “Let me be clear about something: I’ve never changed my attitude towards playing for England. I’ve always wanted to play all three formats. That hasn’t changed, and never will as far as I’m concerned.
“I always dreamed of playing Test cricket and don’t feel I’ve had a bad game so far — yet unless I am taking four or five wickets in an innings, I am placed under scrutiny and some people start trying to decipher what’s going on.
“Comments like ‘he’s not committed’ or ‘he’s not good enough’ appear as soon as you are not 110 percent. I find it quite annoying how people read into stuff and form their own opinions.
“I saw one article from Michael Vaughan in which he said: ‘If Jofra doesn’t love Test cricket, England need to find out why.’ We’ve never had a conversation about cricket, so I found it a bit odd. He doesn’t know what makes me tick. He doesn’t know what’s driving me.”
Speaking on the eve of the T20I series, Morgan confirmed that his strike bowler was fit and ready to take part in the opening fixture at Ahmedabad, and gave his own perspective on the insinuations that Archer is a difficult player for England captains to manage.
“He’s a huge asset,” Morgan said. “He’s a guy that bowl in three parts of the game and can be threatening whenever he comes on. He obviously has express pace, can bowl cutters, variations, and has a very good yorker. He’s a huge asset in any format.
“I do [find him easy to manage]. He’s always been engaging,” Morgan added. “He is a younger member of our squad that has different interests to the majority of our squad, because the majority of our squad is in their late 20s, early 30s.
“He loves enjoying what he does, in travelling, playing Xbox, playing cricket, playing in front of big, big crowds and he is a huge family man. The more I have got to know him: one, the better our relationship is but two, the more I have grown to enjoy his company away from the game because I have got to know him more. He’s a funny guy.”
Archer, who turns 26 next month, also pointed out that James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the “two great bowlers in this England set-up”, needed time and patience to develop their own games at Test level – after 13 Tests, the same number that Archer himself has now played, the pair averaged 33.00 and 38.68 respectively.
“Everyone must start somewhere, and I am still relatively new to Test cricket,” Archer wrote. “I am making my way, much the same as … Anderson and Broad, once did. And I am happy with a bowling average of 31 so far because I can get better.
“The beauty of where those two are in their careers, with so many wickets to their names, is that they get the benefit of the doubt if they have a quiet match of only one or two wickets.
“People will argue, quite rightly, that they have got to where they are for a reason and will come back strongly, whereas I don’t feel there is the same understanding given or faith placed in others.
“Part of being a bowler is accepting there will be games when you don’t enjoy as much success as you would like but you must tick them off, and when the conditions are right for you to take your big haul, use them.”
Asked whether he believed that Archer’s elbow could stand up to the rigours of international cricket across three formats, Morgan reiterated the ECB’s desire to manage his workload across a hectic schedule that includes 17 Tests and a T20 World Cup in the space of 12 months.
“From a medical perspective, I can’t give you an accurate answer but I know Jofra’s ambition has always been to play Test cricket for as long as he can,” he said.
“If you’d look back at the back end of the summer, and most of January, Jofra had [time] off. And there will be different pockets throughout the year – after the IPL, into our summer, and before the World Cup – when Jofra will be rested and really well looked after, both physically and mentally.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket