Archer and Rashid the precious cogs in England’s World Cup machine

first_imgSome strange daydream, this, a child’s idea of what an England win might look like, or a revenge fantasy perhaps, cooked up by despondent English fans in their lowest moments. By the middle of the afternoon, the thousands at Edgbaston seemed almost drunk with happiness watching it come true in front of them.From the top of the pavilion, where their victory songs echoed around the rafters, you could see the heavy weather circling Birmingham. The Met Office had put out a weather warning and, judging by the smudges away on the horizon, they were getting plenty over on the far side of the city. But everyone was left waiting for a storm that never came as England made their way smoothly, serenely, easily into the World Cup final. Read more Share on Facebook Reuse this content Share on WhatsApp How Jofra Archer’s tweets foretold England’s Cricket World Cup semi win Cricket World Cup 2019 Twitter Share on Pinterest Read more There had already been thunder and lightning, though, and lots of it. It was there in Jason Roy’s batting, and Jofra Archer’s bowling. He was the man who started it all, with his very first ball, a waspish delivery to Aaron Finch, exactly as Archer must have seen it in his mind when he was visualising the beginning of the innings.Finch tends to plant his front foot across in front of his stumps when he starts and Archer’s delivery was designed to exploit exactly that. It slid in and hit Finch plumb in front. Archer spun on his heel and dropped to one knee, spread his arms high and wide like he was launching into the chorus. His voice was just beginning to break when the umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger.England won the semi-final in the field, which is the way it has been all summer. A World Cup that was supposed to be all about the batsmen has belonged to the bowlers. For four years, bowling has been England’s weaker suit but, six weeks into the tournament, they have grown into a formidable unit.Eoin Morgan has a superpower’s arsenal to choose from now. In 2015, when Morgan’s team lost against Australia by 111 runs in their opening match of the previous World Cup, he was picking between four right‑arm fast-medium bowlers and an off-spinner. Now he is packing two of the fastest men around, Archer and Mark Wood, a wizardly leg-spinner in Adil Rashid, as well as the craft and guile, seam, swing and cut of Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes. England cricket team It was Woakes who was the man of the match for his three for 20. He got David Warner with a delivery that popped off a length, turned Peter Handscomb inside out with balls that seamed this way and that, then bowled him with one that ricocheted off his inside edge. After half an hour, Woakes and Archer had Australia reeling at 14 for three and scrambling to find a way back into the match. Like Mike Tyson said: “Everyone has a plan, till they get punched in the mouth.” Since you’re here… The blows kept coming. Alex Carey was in now. He came forward to a length delivery from Archer and played it out to cover. You could see Archer bristle at that. He made up his mind what to do before he had even reached the end of his follow-through.The next ball was short, fast, and nasty, as ugly a bouncer as anything anyone has bowled in an England shirt since Steve Harmison was in his prime in 2004. It shot up at Carey’s face and knocked his helmet clean off the top of his head. He was left bleeding from a cut on his chin. The wounded Carey batted on, together with Steve Smith, while Morgan cycled through his bowling changes. Australia were just beginning to recover, and had reached a hundred partnership, when Carey made a fatal mistake. He tried to flick one of Rashid’s leg‑breaks through midwicket, where he picked out the fielder. It was the opening Rashid needed.Rashid, struggling with a shoulder injury, has had a quiet time of it in these past few weeks. He had only taken one wicket for 129 runs in his last three matches. But now he burst into life. He bamboozled Marcus Stoinis with a googly that had him lbw, and then got Pat Cummins too, with a wider one that the batsman edged to slip. By the end of his spell Rashid was bowling so well that, if he had not run out of overs, you sensed he might have run clean through the Australia tail all by himself.In among all this Archer got Glenn Maxwell with a cunning little trick of his own. This time he followed a bouncer with a slower delivery – a knuckle ball, it turned out – which Maxwell prodded straight to cover. Support The Guardian England’s Jofra Archer has Aaron Finch trapped lbw first ball at Edgbaston. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Australia sport Pinterest Cricket Australia cricket team … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email. Share via Email Topics Sportblog Share on Twitter features Share on LinkedIn Morgan is blessed with a rare and precious pair in Archer and Rashid, for England to have a fast bowler that menacing is unusual, for them to have a wrist spinner that deadly is almost unprecedented. The pair seem to have become great friends, too. They sought each other out as soon as the innings was over walked off the pitch together, Archer with his arm draped around Rashid’s shoulder, their heads together so they could joke and chat about everything that had just happened.That rain did reach Edgbaston in the end, by the way, but no one cared because by then England were 222 for two, and one shot away from finishing off one of the greatest victories in their history. It fell heavily right as they set off the fireworks, mixing in with the brilliant light and fire that lit up the grey skies of this English summer. Facebook Share on Messenger England thrash Australia to reach their fourth Cricket World Cup finallast_img read more