Michael Clarke has stated that England stand no chance of winning the Ashes series Down Under later this year without the services of paceman Jofra Archer, who has been sidelined with shoulder injury. The former Australia captain also hoped for an improved performance from the hosts.
England’s last Ashes triumph in Australia came in 2010-11, when they’d taken the series with three games to one under Andrew Strauss. It remains their only success Down Under since 1986-87. After going down 0-4 in 2017-18, England failed to reclaim the honours at home in the 2019 edition that followed, which ended at 2-2.
Joe Root’s men went into the final Test of that series at The Oval trailing 1-2, facing an uphill challenge against an in-form Australia. However, much like he had done at the World Cup earlier that summer, Jofra Archer made a decisive impact in the decider, returning with 6/62 in the first innings to set up England’s series-levelling 135-run win.
Archer eventually finished as the third-highest wicket-taker in the series, with 22 scalps at 20.27. Come 2021, his longevity in Test cricket now seems in jeopardy, courtesy of a recurring elbow injury. The 26-year-old has been ruled out of all cricket for the remainder of the year, which includes the T20 World Cup in the UAE and the Ashes tour.
Michael Clarke, who had led Australia to a 5-0 whitewash in his last Ashes series at home, believes that Archer’s absence has dented the visitors’ chances significantly ahead of the next edition.
“They can’t win without him. England cannot beat Australia in Australia without Jofra Archer,” Clarke was quoted saying on Sky Sports’ ‘Big Sports Breakfast’ on Friday, August 6.
“No Ben Stokes either, they’re cooked. Their batting is not that good. He (Archer) is their fear factor. Without Archer I think they’re cooked.”
Australia had gone down to India in their last Test assignment at home, with Marnus Labuschagne, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood being their standout performers in a closely fought series. Clarke is optimistic of an improved all-round show from Tim Paine’s side against England.
“Our quicks and Nathan Lyon should perform better than against India,” said the former World Cup winning captain. “The batting is another year older and another year wiser. I think you’ll see a better team (in the Ashes).”