<
>

England hoping pace of Jofra Archer can provide Ashes cutting edge

play
Butcher: Overjoyed for unconventional Burns' success (1:44)

Mark Butcher, Osman Samiuddin and Alan Gardner discuss Rory Burns' 'unorthodox' batting style (1:44)

England coach Trevor Bayliss has suggested the extra pace provided by the likes of Jofra Archer could give their attack the required cutting edge as they seek to come from behind and reclaim the Ashes. Archer was one of the stars of England's World Cup win and is in line to potentially replace the injured James Anderson at Lord's next week.

Both at Edgbaston and during the last Ashes series in Australia, England's attack - though hardworking and skilful - was unable to coax the same life out of surfaces as their quicker Australian counterparts.

But Bayliss feels that, with Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone all capable of matching or even surpassing the speeds of Australia's bowlers, England will soon be capable of fielding an attack that remains incisive in demanding conditions. And he hinted that, when the team for the second Test is named, at least one of those fast bowlers will be included.

ALSO READ: Farrell: Smith's bubble proves to be the real fortress

Archer would, fitness permitting, have been included at Edgbaston. But he is currently recovering from a side strain and will be monitored in 2nd XI cricket for Sussex this week. After the setback England experienced with Anderson in the first Test, they will be careful not to take any chances with Archer.

Wood, meanwhile, has been ruled out for the season as a result on a side strain sustained in the World Cup final. He has also used the hiatus to undergo relatively minor knee surgery.

But Stone made a quietly impressive debut against Ireland - his incisive first-innings bowling was overshadowed by the drama in other areas of the match - and was included in the squad for the first Ashes Test. While he is not quite as quick as Wood or Archer, he is faster than any of the England seamers who played at Edgbaston and has the ability to move the ball both ways.

It is not impossible, with Anderson probably out until the end of the month and England about to play four Tests in little more than four weeks, Stone could win an opportunity before the end of the series.

"Obviously we would like a bit more pace," Bayliss said. "We've been waiting for some guys with a bit more pace. We are starting to see younger guys coming through with a bit more pace: the likes of Olly Stone, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. Woody's obviously injured at the moment but some of those guys are getting very close to selection. And that's exciting.

"That's what we've been waiting for, for those guys to get up to speed. I don't think we are too far away from that."

While the pace of the bowlers is one issue, Bayliss also hinted - for the second Test in succession - that England were not delighted with the pitch. While he stopped some way short of the condemnation expressed by Joe Root, who called the Lord's surface used in the Test against Ireland "substandard", Bayliss did say England "would have liked to have seen a bit more live green grass on the wicket at Edgbaston to get the ball to move sideways, whether it's swing or seam".

England have a dilemma in that department, though. Three of their batsmen - Rory Burns, Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow - were dismissed by short balls in the second innings at Edgbaston. On quicker surfaces their struggle against Australia's pace bowlers would be increased. Expecting groundsmen to find that perfect balance between movement and pace may be a bit unreasonable. On the evidence of Edgbaston, where Australia fielded a four-man attack - England ended up with the same after Anderson was forced out through injury - they simply had more bases covered.

Bayliss also acknowledged that the balls used at Edgbaston had gone soft surprisingly quickly. That is a concern because England had 600 of these Dukes ball made to order in the hope they would behave in the same manner as those used in last year's Test series against India. The early evidence would suggest they do not, for while there was movement off the seam, there was almost no swing. And after 25 overs or so that seam movement started to fade, too.

"Both the balls we had were very soft," Bayliss said, "which makes it difficult on a fairly placid wicket. When one or two batters get in, it's very difficult to get it do too much."

But while Australia could rely on Nathan Lyon's spin, Moeen Ali struggled to bowl with the same level of control.

"Our bowling in the second innings wasn't quite what we would have liked," Bayliss said. "We probably made it a little too easy for them to score. The wicket was flat and the ball was soft. It's difficult to bowl in those situations but we have to try and find a way of bowling a lot more of plan A and not make it easy for the batters to score runs.

"Lyon got a lot of balls in the right spot and we saw what happened when you do that."

With questions mounting around Moeen's place in the side, Bayliss described the allrounder as "confidence player" who England had to encourage to find the enjoyment in his cricket once again.

"We have seen him go through one or two periods like this. We know he is a good player. It can be one innings, one good spell of bowling that can get him back on track. Everyone's a confidence player but I think with Mo it is very much like that. He's got to try not to put too much pressure on himself and go out and enjoy it."