Ashes 2019: Glenn McGrath on Jofra Archer, Steve Smith and how the series stands

Glenn McGrath

Glenn McGrath, Australia's most successful fast bowler in Test cricket, has joined the BBC for the 2019 Ashes series. He will be part of the Test Match Special commentary team and contribute a regular column to the BBC Sport website.

England fans should be pretty happy to have Jofra Archer in their Test team - because he is something special.

I've been a big supporter of Archer's for a long time and I love what I see there.

It's quite rare to be able to bowl with pace and accuracy for such a long time. To have pace is so unique and with Archer, it is all natural. His action doesn't look too stressful, he has a nice, smooth run-up and goes through the crease really well.

It's a fairly stress-free action and he's young and fit. He keeps it simple: he just comes in, bowls good areas and with good pace.

At Lord's he bowled some quite lengthy spells, but he maintained his pace throughout his overs. That is a brilliant sign that he can bowl long spells at top pace then come back and bowl second and third spells no problem at all.

With a guy with his action and technique, I don't see any reason why he can't play plenty of Tests. It's just experience that he needs and he will be fine.

Because he is such a natural, fast bowling comes quite easy to him. I think accuracy is always going to be nearly second nature. He's not going to have a spell where he bowls a heap down the leg side.

Archer hit 96mph at one point in the Lord's Test - it is quite rare to see a guy bowling that pace and it has a positive effect on the bowler at the other end.

I bowled in tandem with Brett Lee, who produced some fast, fiery spells. When you've got someone bowling up above 90mph, it has a fear factor that not many people really enjoy.

If you've got a guy bowling that pace and then you're keeping it tight at the other end, you can really work in partnership and build pressure, because the batsmen have no scoring options.

Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath
Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath took a combined 177 wickets in 45 Tests together for Australia

With Stuart Broad at the other end who bowls pretty good areas, Archer just ran in, hit good lengths, good pace, got that bounce and it was tough work for the batsmen.

I think the English would have preferred to have James Anderson there as well so that Jofra could have learned the craft from Anderson and Broad, who have played a lot of Test cricket together.

It's a bit of a shame Anderson isn't there, but Archer looks like a quick learner to me. He has never seemed overawed by a situation. He's going to have a lot more Tests under his belt, the way he plays.

For England to have a strike bowler, it is a weapon that they'll enjoy, and the Australians will have to be on their game. I thought Marnus Labuschagne, who replaced Steve Smith on the final day, showed real courage after being hit by Archer early on. That's what the batsmen will have to do.

Australia have someone like James Pattinson to come in for the next Test at Headingley from Thursday, and Pat Cummins has taken 13 wickets in two matches. It's good to see these quality fast bowlers on show.

When Mitchell Starc, who has yet to play in this series, gets it right, he can bowl at 90mph and swing the ball. But he attacks the stumps - he doesn't bowl aggressive spells like we saw Archer bowl so easily the other day.

That's probably the only thing with Starc - he bowls good pace and he's going to get you out, but he's not going to really intimidate you the way Archer does.

I've no doubt that if things had been left to Steve Smith he would have said he was fine to bat on the final day, but head injuries are taken a lot more seriously now and rightly so.

Him missing the Headingley Test will be a massive loss for Australia. He has been a standout in this series and he looks like he's batting in different conditions to everyone else.

I'm still backing Australia, of course. I think England still have a lot of worries in their top order and with three Tests to go and Australia leading 1-0, England have to win at least two.

England will be buoyed by Archer coming in and doing as well as he did - but there's a long way to go in this series yet.

Men's Ashes 2019: England v Australia, third Specsavers Ashes Test
Venue: Headingley Dates: 22-26 August Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sport website, plus in-play highlights and text commentary

Glenn McGrath was speaking to BBC Sport's Amy Lofthouse.

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