Luke Wright says he wasn’t surprised at the impact Jofra Archer made during this winter’s Big Bash - and is tipping him for more big things in the upcoming Indian Premier League.
Archer had been Sussex’s best-kept secret until he announced himself to a wider audience with some stellar performances for Hobart Hurricanes. And Wright, no stranger to the T20 circuit himself, expects Archer, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Sunday, to have as big an impression in the IPL, which starts later this month.
Only two players took more than the 16 wickets Archer snared for Hobart. His superb new ball and death bowling, as well as some eye-catching exploits in the field, persuaded Rajasthan Royals pay £800,000 for his services over the next six weeks.
Wright, just announced as Sussex's T20 Blast skipper for the coming season, said: “It was a matter of time before the world discovered him. I was with Melbourne (Stars) at the Big Bash and we played Hobart in a friendly and the Stars guys hadn’t heard of him but they went away hugely impressed. I remember seeing him rough up Brendon McCullum in the Bangladesh T20 before the Big Bash and I think a lot of coaches saw that too and took notice as well.
“Everything he did came off. As an overseas player in the franchises you are a gun for hire and when things don’t go well you have to protect yourself and be your own coach but he’s taken it all in his stride. The nice thing is that he wants to keep improving. He is one of the best players I have seen at his age and I wouldn’t be surprised if he tears up the IPL as well.”
Both Archer and his mentor Chris Jordan will be missing for Sussex’s first five Championship games because of their IPL commitments. It means opportunities for some of Sussex’s younger players to impress new coach Jason Gillespie.
In contrast, Chris Nash’s winter departure to Nottinghamshire means Wright, at the grand old age of just 33, is now the senior citizen in the Sussex dressing room. But he is just as desperate to impress Gillespie as Sussex’s young tyros and after his first winter off for ten years feels rejuvenated by the new era at Hove. Gillespie clearly believes in him too, appointing him skipper for the Vitality T20 Blast campaign later this summer.
“Having the last 6-7 weeks at home has been brilliant and it feels like a fresh start now, what with Dizzy coming in as well as coach,” added Wright.
“I made a few technical changes to my batting and pre-season has gone well and I’ve got some good runs. I’ve got my sparkle back but I still want to improve, to train hard and give it my best shot. 2017 wasn’t a disaster but I know I’ve got a lot more in me.”