James Anderson says England captain Joe Root will need to talk to Jofra Archer to find out if he is mentally ready to play in the series decider against the West Indies after he suffered online racist abuse.
Paceman Archer is available for the third Test at Old Trafford starting on Friday after missing England’s series-levelling win at the same ground following a breach of coronavirus protocols.
In a Daily Mail column published on Wednesday, the 25-year-old admitted to an error of judgement but said he had not “committed a crime”. He said some of the criticism he had faced on social media following the incident had been racist and he had reported the comments to the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).
“I need to be 100 percent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week,” Archer wrote.
“If I play and don’t bowl 90 miles an hour it’s going to be news. If I don’t bowl 90 miles per hour for long enough it’s going to be news,” he added.
Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, told reporters that the players had not seen much of their team-mate because he had been in isolation.
“I’m sure he’ll want to play in this game because it’s such a crucial game, the series resting on it,” said the veteran bowler.
“He’s said about his frame of mind and that’s something that over the next two days he’s going to have to sit down with the captain and coach (Chris Silverwood) and figure out if he is in the right place to play.”
Anderson said while there had always been scrutiny on international players, the spotlight was now even more intense due to social media.
He added, according to BT Sport, that he was fortunate when he started his career.
“It’s always something that can be difficult for guys coming into the international set-up because I think the scrutiny is very different, you do feel more under the spotlight.
“It’s just finding coping methods for that, finding ways of dealing with the extra attention.
“I was fortunate when I came into the England team there was no social media back then, but the way people can get their opinions out there, it’s quite visible.
“It’s just finding methods as a player to deal with that, and I think using the team around him as well, whether that’s family friends, management and the players and coaches here. It’s important everyone does that not just Jofra.”
West Indies backing
Archer also received the backing of West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick, who has known the Sussex paceman since he was a junior player in his native Barbados.
“Jofra will be fine,” said Estwick.
“I’ve been in constant contact with him because I wasn’t prepared to leave him out there on a limb. We’ve had constant dialogue and tried to reassure him that we all make mistakes, you learn from them and then you move on.”
Former England captain Andrew Strauss said Archer’s case had been dealt with “sensibly and sensitively” by the ECB.
“He made a pretty substantial mistake,” said Strauss. “It’s not one of those things he should be punished for ad infinitum for doing.... It’s time to move forward.”
Archer was fined and given a written warning for breaking the rules governing international cricket’s first series since the virus lockdown.
The bowler, subjected to racist abuse by a spectator during a tour of New Zealand last year, said he would not tolerate such comments online either.
“Some of the abuse I have taken over the past few days on Instagram has been racist and I have decided that enough is enough... so I have forwarded my complaints to the ECB,” he said in his column.
Estwick said he was saddened by some of the comments Archer had faced during a series in which both sides had shown their support for the Black Lives Matter campaign.
“It’s disappointing to hear of a player being racially abused,” Estwick said.
“It does happen. I’ve seen him (Archer) say he is going to try to stay off social media and that’s a start. If you stay off social media they can’t racially abuse you from there.”
(With AFP inputs)