Lucky Joe Root. Captains are made by their bowlers. I had Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard. Andrew Strauss had Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
It now feels as though, in Jofra Archer, Root has found his match-winner for all conditions.
I have never seen a spell as brutal as that from an England bowler. Perhaps Harmison and Flintoff bowled similar spells but only once they were established England cricketers. Archer has done it on his Test debut bowling to the best batsman of this generation.
Kevin Pietersen, Ian Botham and Flintoff emptied bars when they were batting but I have never seen an England bowler do it before. Every single fan was rooted to their seat. During that spell to Steve Smith, I looked out at the Nursery Ground where the food vans and big screens are situated and it was practically empty. Everyone wanted to watch something that was very special.
I believe Smith is the best Test batsman I have ever seen and yet this kid on debut completely pushed him right back. He has it all: pace, skill, variations of lines and consistent lengths. There is not a great deal that looks as if it could go wrong. He has a perfect straight leg when he releases the ball which gives him all his power.
I feel over the next few years we are in for a great ride watching him bowl in Test cricket. The one thing he may have to work out is that bowling short intimidates people but it generally does not bring you a lot of wickets. It might be that over time someone has to remind Archer that the majority of balls need to be the top of off stump, aiming to get the nicks and lbws.
Those short balls are there to push them back and intimidate batsmen. But it is not a big deal because Archer has everything. If you said to Jofra “We want you to do a five-over burst pitching it up, or bowling away from the right-hander or back in to the left-handers”, he would be able to do it. He has everything covered.
Bowling like that, he will win Test matches all over the world for England. Just wait until he starts reverse swinging it at pace, then he will be unplayable.
He looks as if he loves bowling long spells and to come on to bowl in any situation. That is gold dust for a captain. It felt like a different game was being played at the other end. Stuart Broad was bowling 85mph and swinging it with the new ball and it felt a bit flat. No disrespect to Stuart, who is a legend of our game and bowled well, but it was as though a completely different game was in town when Archer was bowling.
In fact, the best person to ask about that spell is Broad, who was standing at mid-off. He will never have seen anything like that on an England field in his 129 Tests.
Archer’s spell to Smith proved to me that Test cricket is the best form of the game. I love white-ball cricket, with all its flamboyance and skill, but you do not get spells like that in Twenty20 and one-day cricket.
The Australians had to show courage, patience and discipline. It is why Test cricket is the ultimate format because it tests every facet of your game.
Imagine being Peter Siddle strolling out there to bat when the greatest batsman of your era has been left pole-axed on the pitch by a bowler banging it in at over 90mph. Siddle is a No. 9 for a reason and he is going out to bat facing 96 mph with Smith wobbling off with the team doctor. I cannot think what must have been going through his mind. You just do not get that situation in any other form of the game.
It was cricket of the highest order and this ground was the perfect place to witness it. It is a genuine audience of cricket lovers and they realised the brutality, skill and hostility they were watching. It also took great courage and discipline from the batsmen.
- The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2019