The first day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s was washed out before a ball had been bowled, forcing England’s Jofra Archer to wait for his eagerly-anticipated debut.
The most exciting moment of a bleak day at the home of cricket came when Archer, one of the stars of England’s victorious World Cup campaign and bowler of the super over which sealed the trophy, was awarded his first cap by Sussex team-mate Chris Jordan.
Only eight of Jordan’s 78 England appearances have come in the five-day format but he was easily the most apt choice to welcome his fellow Barbadian into the fold, having helped the man he calls “a little brother” swap the Caribbean for Hove three years ago.
When Jordan presented Archer with his Three Lions cap, shortly before 3pm, there was still hope of seeing him in action but fading hopes of getting captains Joe Root and Tim Paine to complete the toss disappeared as another heavy downpour struck.
Forecasts are better for day two, when the famous old ground will turn red in support of the Ruth Strauss Foundation – a lung cancer charity set up to honour the late wife of Andrew Strauss, the former England captain and director of men’s cricket.
Fans have been asked to wear the colour and both teams will wear limited-edition caps and shirts to be auctioned off, one of several fund-raising initiatives in place on Thursday.
Play will be extended by half an hour on each of the remaining four days, meaning only one session has been lost to the weather at this stage.
England, who have yet to reveal whether Sam Curran or Jack Leach will take the final place in their side, are 1-0 down after their heavy loss in the series opener at Edgbaston but will be buoyed by the presence of Archer’s formidable 90mph pace.
Jordan gave a touching address in front of the England squad as he toasted Archer becoming the country’s 693rd Test cricketer – a formality he will finally cross when the team sheets are handed in on day two.
“I know this is the pinnacle for you,” he told his friend.
“One of the first things you told me when you came over to England is that you wanted to play Test cricket and that time has come. You’ve got 10 other guys as well as an entire nation supporting you.
“These (caps) aren’t just handed out, these are earned. Just go out there and do what you do best.”
Jordan expects 24-year-old Archer to be a huge boost to England’s Test team and was proud to be there at the start of his journey.
“Apart from receiving my England cap this is easily one of my proudest moments,” he said.
“I’ve watched you grow, not only as a cricketer but also as a professional and a human being. Every single challenge that has presented itself to you so far you find a way of rising to it and I don’t see Test cricket being any different.”
Australia coach Justin Langer confirmed that Josh Hazlewood would take the place of the rested James Pattinson, edging Mitchell Starc for the final slot.
“He’s got an outstanding record. He missed out on the World Cup because we felt he hadn’t played much cricket but we know he’s an outstanding bowler,” Langer said of Hazlewood.
“He hits a great length and he’s usually pretty miserly with his economy rate, that’s what gave him the edge in this game.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was a hard decision. If it comes off we know what we are doing, if it doesn’t we don’t, that’s just the business we are in. It was a tough call.”
Langer admitted he was relieved his side had not been forced to decide whether to bat or bowl in unsettled conditions, preferring to start again from scratch in the morning.
“We had a joke there for a moment, asking if the captain tosses the coin and he wins the toss can he ask the opposition to make the choice,” he said.
“A couple of the umpires weren’t sure, but they checked for us and you have to make a decision. It was going to be a tough call.”
Meanwhile, Strauss admits the lack of homegrown head coaches in The Hundred may represent a missed opportunity for the English game.
The former England captain was one of the public advocates for the new franchise competition in his previous role as director of men’s cricket at the ECB, but has not had any direct involvement since leaving the post in October.
Six coaches have been named so far across the men’s and women’s competitions, comprising five Australians – led by Shane Warne – and South Africa’s Gary Kirsten.
“Personally I think that was a great opportunity for English coaches to be appointed,” Strauss said.
“Each of those teams will have their own reasons for appointing experienced coaches, who have coached in T20 cricket elsewhere in the world. You can completely understand that, but there is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation in that unless English coaches get an opportunity, how do they get the experience?
“We’ve always got to look for an opportunity for our English coaches to get more experience than just doing county coaching gigs.”