Jofra Archer’s willingness to experiment enough to convince Joe Root he is still England’s X-factor

England captain Joe Root is convinced Jofra Archer’s career remains on an upward trajectory despite a challenging time for the paceman in the two-Test series against New Zealand.

Jofra Archer: Cuts a frustrated figure after Joe Denly dropped Kane Williamson.
Jofra Archer: Cuts a frustrated figure after Joe Denly dropped Kane Williamson.

Archer burst on to the international scene with a series of remarkable performances in the World Cup and Ashes but took a combined 2-209 in this series as he struggled to adjust to the flat surfaces and Kookaburra ball.

It was the first notable setback for the fast bowler, who should have had his third scalp of the trip on the final day of the second Test at Hamilton, only for Joe Denly to drop the simplest of chances.

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That proved to be a reprieved for New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who, along with veteran batsman Ross Taylor, recorded centuries to ensure a draw at Seddon Park as the Black Caps claimed a 1-0 series victory.

England's Jofra Archer, right, reacts after teammate Joe Denly dropped a catch to dismiss New Zealand's Kane Williamson. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Nevertheless, the delivery to Williamson, changing his action by withdrawing his front arm and bowling a knuckle ball, was enough to encourage Root that Archer has a prominent role in England’s future.

Root said: “I think he’ll learn a huge amount from this, I really do.

“He’s obviously an extremely exciting talent and he’s got so much to offer Test cricket and this team and I’m sure it won’t be long till we see him tear it up again.

“I think he’s found out there are a number of ways you’ve got to be able to operate and you’ve got to show real resilience sometimes when it does get quite flat and keep putting in time and time again, which he did.

“He showed a great amount of variety in trying to take wickets and produce an opportunity; bowling with no front arm, bowling his knuckle balls, a couple of leg-cutters and a quick bouncer every now and again to change the pace.

“It shows he’s got all the skills that are there, it’s now just putting it all together. I’m sure he’ll learn very quickly and I’m pretty confident we’ll get the best out of him soon.”

Denly fluffing his lines after Williamson had tamely prodded forward to midwicket on 62 was being described as one of the worst drops in history in some quarters.

Root said with a smile: “I’m sure Joe will not hear the end of that one for a while. I think it was just a one-off goober that doesn’t happen very often.”

Williamson was also given a let-off when 39 when Ollie Pope snatched at an opportunity after the Kiwi batsman had gloved down the leg-side off Ben Stokes.

Williamson went on to record his 21st Test century and Taylor his 19th as they finished on 104 not out and 105 not out respectively in taking New Zealand to 241-2– a lead of 140 – before rain wiped out the rest of the day.

Root added: “In hindsight it looks now that even if we’d had it go all our own way we’d have struggled to force a result but catching is something you want to pride yourself on as a team and we want to get better at. We’ll continue to keep working hard.”

Stokes was in visible pain on the opening day after being restricted to two overs because of a knee injury but there has been little sign of discomfort since then.

Root added: “With Ben, you’re always trying to make sure he’s being honest with you, he’ll continue to keep bowling unless you pull him off.”

Chris Waters’ verdict: Page 25