England’s Jofra Archer says it has been a challenge adjusting to the Kookaburra ball ahead of Thursday’s first test against New Zealand but hopes a bit of pace off the surface at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui will help level the playing field.
Archer made his test debut in the Ashes series against Australia earlier this year, taking 22 wickets in four matches, and is England’s main strike bowler in New Zealand in the absence of the injured James Anderson.
The two-test series is Archer’s first overseas tour and his chief concern is the Australian-made ball, which has a far less pronounced seam than he is used to.
“I’d never bowled with the red Kookaburra before, but I knew it was going to be tough and so it proved,” he wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
“People say it has a smaller seam than the Dukes ball we use in England but I’m not sure it has a seam at all. It isn’t pronounced on any part of the ball. It doesn’t hold its shine either and gets very old, very fast.”
Archer is pinning his hopes on the speed of the pitch in Mount Maunganui after playing on the “flattest” of his life in Whangarei in England’s final warm-up match.
“We’ve heard conditions at Mount Maunganui might be more helpful and there could be a bit more pace so … that may be something to work with,” he added.
“When there’s nothing on offer from the conditions, you have to try whatever you can. You have to be inventive over here, which is one of the things we’ve spoken about as a group.”
One of the highlights of the Ashes was Archer’s battle with Australia’s Steve Smith, who plundered 774 runs in four matches despite suffering a concussion after being struck by a bouncer from the 24-year-old.
Archer said England’s bowlers could expect to be tested by New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, the No. 3 test batsman in the world.
“I didn’t want to be bowling to Steve Smith again any time soon after what happened last summer,” he added. “But New Zealand have Kane Williamson, who isn’t going to give you much either.
“We’re probably going to have to try a bit of everything against him, although he plays the short ball pretty well.”