‘I think it’s a bit harsh from Mikey… no-one here has forgotten about Black Lives Matter’: Jofra Archer hits back at Michael Holding for scathing attack on England and Australia for not taking a knee
- Sky pundit Michael Holding said dropping the gesture showed ‘a lack of respect’
- Jofra Archer denied that England’s support for Black Lives Matter had ended
- Archer said there is still a ‘small percentage’ that continue to abuse him online
- He added he has found life in cricket’s bio-secure bubbles difficult this summer
Jofra Archer put Australia to the sword and then got on the front foot when confronted by a hostile delivery from one of the all-time fast bowling greats.
Archer was the key performer in a remarkable England comeback at Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday that transformed the second one-day international and set up a series decider on Wednesday to conclude this unique men’s international summer.
And on Monday he took on the role of spokesman when asked about Michael Holding’s criticism of the players of England, Australia and Pakistan and their boards for not taking the knee before games this summer in support of the Black Lives Matter message.
Jofra Archer has hit back at Michael Holding following his scathing comments against England
Former quick Holding (right) slammed England and Australia’s players for not taking the knee
Holding, one of the most erudite and passionate figures in world cricket, said a ‘lack of respect’ had been shown by the cricketers in dropping the gesture as soon as West Indies went home and that the ‘excuses’ given for doing so were ‘flimsy and lame.’
But the Barbados-born Archer, who has been forced to deal with serious off-field topics in his 18 months as an international cricketer, took issue with Holding and any suggestion that England’s support had ended as soon as West Indies backs were turned.
‘I think it is a bit harsh of Mikey to criticise without doing research,’ said Archer after he had conjured up memories of last year’s World Cup with his player of the match display in Australia’s capitulation to a 24-run defeat.
Archer was the key performer in England’s comeback against Australia at Old Trafford
‘I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know anything that is going on behind the scenes. For instance I don’t think he has spoken to Tom Harrison (ECB chief executive). 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.’
Sportsmail understands Archer was referring to a number of England player-led projects on diversity and inclusion that will be made public in the coming months.
It is a troubling reflection of modern times that Archer has had to address race almost as much as cricket in his public pronouncements since starting to play for the land of his father.
But it is something he will not shy away from and there was another reminder on Monday of the abuse he has suffered online when he was asked if he felt ‘the love’ of the vast majority of England fans.
But Archer took issue with the suggestion England’s support for Black Lives Matter had ended
‘Yes I do but there’s still a small percentage, you know?’ said Archer. ‘I may be doing well and then I see things like one lady commenting on my chains (the jewellery he wears on the field). Chains have nothing to do with cricket. If she knew me she would know I’ve worn chains from the time I was 14 or 15 years old.’
Archer does feel, though, that progress is being made on the more serious abuse he has received. One instance he highlighted in a column for Sportsmail was reported to police who traced the abuser to India. No criminal action was taken but the account was closed.
‘I think things are being put in place now and people can be prosecuted a bit easier,’ said the regular user of social media. ‘But I think 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 (racial abuse from an Australia supporter after Friday’s first one-day international). The guy blamed it on being drunk. My mum would always say ‘you can’t think for people.’ As long as there is social media and the person doesn’t have to confront you it will still go on.
Archer also admitted there is a ‘small percentage’ that continue to abuse him on social media
‘All we can all do is try to act accordingly, report it and do what’s best. 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 to stamp it out.’
The good news is that, after a sometimes difficult Test summer, Archer has a smile on his face and is showing again what an exceptional talent he is now he has got a white-ball back in his hand. Not least in taking three Aussie wickets on Sunday with 90 mph plus thunderbolts.
It does appear that the positive atmosphere created by Eoin Morgan in England’s World Cup winners suits Archer more than a Test arena where, for now, he does not get the new ball and has to play second fiddle to legends Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad.
‘It might just be a different environment, a change of scenery or a change in personnel,’ said Archer. ‘You do sometimes think you have hit a wall. Sometimes you just need to relax or switch your mind off for a few days.
‘I honestly don’t know what it is but if you are in a good frame of mind you probably bowl a bit faster. Sometimes pace isn’t the answer. On Sunday I didn’t feel as though I bowled that fast. For me as long as I feel good I don’t care how fast I’m bowling.’
It does appear that the positive atmosphere created by Eoin Morgan (left) suits Archer
But Archer, who landed himself in hot water for breaking covid protocols in going home before the second Test against West Indies, admits he has found life in cricket’s strict bio-secure bubbles difficult this summer.
No England player has spent more time away from home than the 87 days Archer will have spent living and working in cricket grounds by the time he leaves for the Indian Premier League and his contract with Rajasthan Royals in the UAE on Thursday.
‘I tell you, it’s been mentally challenging,’ said Archer. ‘Being at home is going to be more rare because being in the bubble has become the new norm. I haven’t seen my family since February and there’s now going to be the IPL and hopefully we will be going to South Africa with England. Then I want to see my family because that’s important. I don’t know how many more bubbles I will have in me this year after that.’
But first comes one more night in the Old Trafford bubble before one final date with Australia and the chance for England to end this unique summer unbeaten in any series, red-ball or white.
‘When we first came into the bubble we said we wanted a clean sweep this summer and we’ve pretty much got that in sight now,’ added Archer.
Archer also admitted he has found life in cricket’s bio-secure bubbles difficult this summer
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