Jofra Archer fires back at Holding and insists England cricket supports BLM

Jofra Archer fires back at Holding and insists England cricket supports BLM

Jofra Archer insists England have not forgotten the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement and that Michael Holding had not done his research when criticising the team’s decision to stop taking a knee.

Holding, a prominent Sky pundit, accused England’s players of abandoning the pre-match gesture “as soon as West Indies went home” and questioned whether they had simply “jumped on the bandwagon” when doing so previously.

But Archer, speaking a day after he and Chris Woakes scorched through Australia to set up an ODI series decider on Wednesday, has spoken to Tom Harrison, the England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive, and is confident the sport’s response is not over.

“I’m pretty sure Michael Holding doesn’t know anything that is going on behind the scenes,” Archer said. “I don’t think he has spoken to Tom Harrison. It is a bit harsh for Mikey to not do some research before criticising.

“I’ve spoken to Tom and we have stuff running in the background. We’ve not forgotten, no one here has forgotten about Black Lives Matter.”

Harrison admitted in July that English cricket had to face up to a “very difficult set of truths” and among the actions referenced by Archer is the introduction of a formal game‑wide anti‑discrimination code that, somewhat belatedly, gives the governing body the power to police all levels of the sport.

The ECB, which has an all-white board of directors, has also pledged to increase diversity across the sport’s leadership positions and introduce a raft of education programmes, bursaries and projects similar to Surrey’s ACE scheme, which opens opportunities to the African‑Caribbean community.

In response, Holding told ESPNcricinfo: “Taking a knee does not prevent other action from taking place. Those who take a knee are not substituting the gesture for other positive action. Nobody should have a problem with it. It is a worldwide recognition of calling attention to racial prejudice and injustice.”

David Warner walks off after being dismissed by Jofra Archer in the second ODI.

Archer has had to deal with racist abuse during his 18-month international career – on social media and in person, after reporting one spectator in New Zealand last year – and questioned whether the deterrents go far enough. He said then: “People can be prosecuted a bit easier but it might have to go a bit further because some people still aren’t worried about what can happen to them. I had one the other day, the guy blamed it on being drunk.

“I think I’m strong enough to deal with it but what happens when they start targeting someone who isn’t as mentally strong and it starts affecting them? We’ve got to try and stamp it out as much as possible now.”

These are weighty subjects for a cricketer to deal with so early in their international career but the 25‑year‑old appears unburdened, certainly if his role in the dramatic 24‑run win against Australia on Sunday is anything to go by. The right-armer vaporised David Warner and Marcus Stoinis with the new ball, struck Aaron Finch twice with bouncers and was one half of the incendiary mid-innings burst with Woakes that knocked over four of the tourists in 21 balls to set up another chapter in England’s recent catalogue of fightbacks.

Archer has 29 wickets from his first 16 ODI caps – only Jimmy Anderson, with 30, boasted more for England after that number of matches – and he continues to deliver for his captain, Eoin Morgan. Having a clearly defined role, one dictated by the format’s restrictions, helps no end.

Joe Root seems chiefly interested in deploying him in the role of third seamer-cum-enforcer but Archer, who remains keen to utilise his array of skills, has once again reminded his Test captain – and the wider commentariat – that 90mph is not easy to sustain over the course of five days.

“The time I spend bowling with the white ball is a lot less than in Test cricket. You can’t run [hard] in the whole day. It is impossible to run in the whole day bowling at 90mph. If you can show me someone who does it then fair play. But I’ve not seen any bowler who bowls 90mph do it for a whole day.”

No player has spent more time in the biosecure environment than Archer (87 days) and, having been hit with a fine and lost a Test cap for an unsanctioned trip home during the West Indies series, he said it has been a “mentally challenging” experience. “I’m not sure how many bubbles I have left in me this year.”

There is at least still one to negotiate, with Archer among a contingent of English and Australian players who fly out on a chartered plane to the United Arab Emirates after the game on Wednesday to play in the Indian Premier League, which ends on 10 November.