Umpires under the pump after Archer bowls two beamers
PRETORIA – Jofra Archer was expected to light up this series, although he probably wouldn’t have expected to do it in the manner with which he ended the second day of the first Test here on Friday.
Archer bowled two waste high full tosses at nightwatchman Anrich Nortje – the first was called by umpire Paul Reiffel who’d swapped his normal position at square leg for point on account of the setting sun. Reiffel called the second no-ball too, although he quickly withdrew his decision seemingly under pressure from Archer and Stuart Broad fielding at mid-off. Had the decision stood to call Archer for a second ‘beamer’ he would not be allowed to bowl for the remainder of South Africa’s second innings.
That decision by Reiffel to change his mind angered the South African dressing-room with Proteas captain Faf du Plessis heading for match referee Andy Pycroft’s room for a chat, quickly followed by head coach Mark Boucher and team manager Volvo Masubelele. The chat continued on the steps of the home side’s dressing room but for now, it seems Archer will continue to bowl.
“If you are at square leg and you call a no ball you must stand your ground,” Vernon Philander said afterwards. “We are playing a game and setting an example and you have to make the right call. Are we going to tolerate it at another game and the another? Or are we going to put a stop to it right here? The umpires need to make the right call.”
Joe Denly said he was surprised that Archer would try two slower balls in a row, but felt the second delivery wasn’t a beamer. “The second one just missed the stumps,” said Denly.
It was a dramatic end to a dramatic days play in which 15 wickets fell with England slumping from 142/3 to 181 all out in just 15 overs. Philander led the way with a marvellous spell of metronomic seam bowling that left him with figures of 14.2-8-16-4 and many wondering why he’d want to retire at the end of the series.
“This is a decision that’s been planned over a period of time,” he said. “Seeing as there are only a few (matches) left I have to make the most of it.”
Denly, who made a battling 50, described Philander and Kagiso Rabada’s new ball spells as some of the best bowling he’s faced. “Those two spells with the new ball is as good as it gets really. They complimented each other ...Philander doesn’t give you a thing and Rabada is very aggressive - there were a couple of snorters there.”
South Africa will resume on Saturday with a lead of 175. “I think (a lead of) 300 plus would put us in the safe zone,” said Philander.