England all-rounder Moeen Ali paid a big compliment to team-mate Jofra Archer, saying the rising star is the fastest bowler he has faced and someone who makes “good batters do different things”.
Archer catapulted himself into the England squad on the eve of the World Cup and had only made three ODI appearances before ripping apart the South African batting in the tournament opener on Thursday.
Touching speeds of 94mph, he accounted for Aiden Markram, captain Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen to finish with 3/27 on his World Cup debut.
He also bowled a sharp bouncer that hit opener Hashim Amla on the head, forcing him to retire hurt. “Jofra is amazing. He just makes good batters do different things, that pace he has is incredible. He is the fastest I have ever faced. It is unbelievable. He gives us that something else, he can win you games even if he goes for a few runs,” said Ali.
“Knowing you have him in your side makes a big difference.” The pressure was on hosts England at The Oval and they got off to a disappointing start – losing Jonny Bairstow to just the second ball of the tournament when he nicked leg-spinner Imran Tahir behind.
Yet they recovered to post 311/8, thanks to four players making half-centuries, led by Stokes’ 89.
That appeared to be about par at the interval but Archer’s express pace, along with the savvy spin of Ali and Adil Rashid, saw off South Africa for 207. The hosts next face Pakistan at Trent Bridge and Moeen says they can now relax after getting through their first major test.
“I felt, losing the toss and with it being a 10.30 start, that there was a lot of pressure. More than we have ever faced. We would have liked to have chased,” he said. “To bat like that showed we really adapted to the wicket and it was great, I thought the guys did really well on what was a tough wicket. Everyone was a bit nervous. I was on the balcony watching and I think the pressure with being the home side and the No.1 side in the world was always going to be on. The guys played really well, it was a massive win for us,” he added.