Jofra Archer's workload at his pace is 'unsustainable' and tantamount to 'abuse', says Michael Holding

Charles Richardson

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding believes England’s overuse of Jofra Archer is tantamount to “abuse”.

Holding claimed England’s regular deployment of Archer, who bowled 22 of the 75 overs bowled on the penultimate day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, was “unsustainable”.

“Archer bowled a third of all the overs bowled. That’s a spinner’s quota,” he told The Independent. “If you keep bowling him like this you will lose the 96mph delivery. He’ll still bowl fast, 90mph, but do you want to lose the express pace? It is not just about this match or the next, but next year and the one after that.”

Holding compared Archer to South Africa’s leading quick, Kagiso Rabada. Rabada, who is the same age as Archer (24), has bowled more than 7,000 overs in Test cricket - more than any other fast bowler his age - and has a history of back trouble, which has caused him to soften the speed of his deliveries.

“It’s abuse,” Holding said. “When I was bowling, we had three other quicks just as fast. We could share the burden.”

Michael Holding, second right, formed one of cricket's most fearsome pace attacks along with Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner Credit: Allsport

While Archer’s spell was ruthlessly impressive - it ultimately forced Australia’s batting talisman Steve Smith from the field with injury - Holding believes that England’s firecracker needs to be monitored closely in the future.

“England need to be very careful with Archer. He is obviously very fit, as you could see with his recovery from the side strain. Like me, he is tall, not big and muscular. He relies on rhythm and looks very relaxed running in. All that is in his favour but it is not sustainable for England to use him like this in every match.

Holding’s warning was echoed by Jim Pate, senior physiologist at the centre for health and human performance, who spoke exclusively to Telegraph Sport.

“Even for a bowler with such a fluent action as Jofra Archer's, there are inherent risks in one bowler being asked to take on such a big workload in one match,” he said.

“Fast bowling places a big strain on different areas of the body: there is a huge amount of stress running through the knee and ankle in the landing leg (although Archer's smaller jump into the crease mitigates against this a little); there is pressure on the shoulder, which generates so much of the pace in the delivery; and there is tension running through the bowler's side.

“The nature of high-performance athletes is that they will push themselves to the limits of what their bodies can endure - and often beyond. It is the job of the coaches to ensure the athletes are protected from themselves and not allowed to go too far into the danger zone which can lead to injury.”

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