Jason Gillespie believes criticism of England fast bowler Jofra Archer might well be rooted in lazy stereotyping.

Archer excelled on his introduction to the international game last year, starring in England's Cricket World Cup win and then the 2-2 home Ashes series draw against Australia.

The 25-year-old claimed 55 wickets across all formats in 2019 but a tough tour of New Zealand and mixed fortunes as England were subsequently victorious in South Africa brought his performances into question.

Conjecture generally whipped up whenever the Barbados-born paceman let his speeds slip below the high speeds that allow him to thrill spectators and terrify batsmen.

Gillespie takes charge of Archer at Sussex when his commitments for England and in global T20 leagues allow.

A world-class seamer during his playing days for Australia, he feels the slights directed towards the player "couldn’t be further from the truth".

“I've been very excited by Jofra," he told Stats Perform. "Obviously, he plays at Sussex and my dealings with Jofra have been nothing short of fantastic.

"He's a very likeable young man, loves his cricket, very passionate, he's very hardworking.

"I’ve been pretty disappointed with some of the criticism levelled at Jofra. I think he suffers a little bit from perception. There's that laid-back demeanour that he has.

"He's got a few gold chains, he's got the different hairstyle, he’s got that sort of laid-back West Indian approach. He's Barbadian-born, so he has that approach.

"That perception of that laid-back attitude, people assume that he doesn’t care or he’s not putting [effort] in, and that couldn't be further from the truth. The kid lives and breathes cricket, and I think he's been fantastic."

Gillespie was tipped by some to be leading Archer in the next stage of his international career, with his name linked to the vacancy that emerged when Trevor Bayliss stepped down at the end of the Ashes.

The England and Wales Cricket Board ultimately entrusted bowling coach and former Essex head coach Chris Silverwood to step up.

Content in his roles with Sussex and Big Bash outfit the Adelaide Strikers, Gillespie insists his association with the role never amounted to anything more than gossip – although he would consider offers to work at international level.

“My name was linked with it but at no stage have I had an official interview or anything like that for any role," he explained.

"I think my name got bandied around along with a number of other coaches in the world. I'd love to be involved with international cricket at some point in the future.

"Right now, I’ve got a wonderful job at Sussex, a wonderful job at the Adelaide Strikers, and I'm really enjoying those roles.

"If something does come up in international cricket, you’d certainly have a look at it. As a career coach, you want to progress and work with the best players. Anyone would be open to having those conversations, but at the moment, my focus is on Sussex and the Strikers." 

Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie believes financial imperatives are likely to bring back elite cricket behind closed doors.

Sporting leagues across the world are at various stages in plotting their return from a widespread hiatus brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Germany, the Bundesliga will come back this weekend, while Australia's NRL is slated for a May 28 return.

Cricket in Australia has a little more time to play with as a summer sport, but Gillespie – who coaches Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League, along with English county side Sussex – is realistic over the need to play without fans initially if possible.

"Let's face it, the reason why sports want to have their various sports behind closed doors is TV money," he told Stats Perform. "A lot of sports are on the brink, financially they're struggling, and that television money is vital to the survival of the various codes.

"I'm not against it. Ideally, we want sports to be played with the crowds but, if the only option is to play behind closed doors with TV and radio and the like then I'm for that. That's better than no sport.

"I'm very conscious of the fact that it needs to be done safely – the health of the players. And it's not just the players, behind the scenes there is still going to be a production. There are a swathe of people around who will need to be looked after.

"But if we can play sport safely, then I'm all for it."

One of cricket's unique quirks looks set to become problematic in these changing times – namely the use of saliva and sweat to maintain the condition and shine of the ball.

Fielding sides engage in this practice to give pace bowlers a better chance of achieving swing, although it would now throw up obvious health and safety concerns.

As one of his generation's finest seam bowlers, Gillespie believes the art of maintaining the ball must remain but feels umpires could have a role to play.

"It's a really tough one. To give the bowlers half a chance of creating some movement through the air the ball needs to be maintained," he explained.

"I know there's been lots of discussions about what's the best way to do that.

"At the moment in cricket, if there's some dirt on the ball, you can go to the umpire and under his supervision remove that dirt.

"I wonder if there could be a law that can be brought in for this time. Whether it's a substance I don't know. Under the supervision of the umpires, maybe at the start or the end of each over to maintain the shine on the ball.

"I'm sure that's something that the law makers will look at. It's a really tough one. I'm not sure I have an answer but that's the only thing I can think that could be done, as legally and as safely as possible."

Kookaburra – the Australian company that manufacturers the balls predominantly used in international cricket around the world – announced last week they had developed a "unique wax formula" that could be applied by umpires in place of traditional shining methods.

However, this would require a change to the laws of the game, which prohibit the application of any artificial substance to the ball.

Jofra Archer is "progressing as expected" as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right elbow and is set to make a return to action for Sussex in May.

The pace bowler suffered the injury during England’s tour of South Africa, featuring in just the first of four Test matches before withdrawing from the Twenty20 series against the Proteas.

In a statement released on its website, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced Archer has undergone a repeat MRI scan and, following a review by the medical team, is focused on being fit for the first Test against West Indies in June.

The 24-year-old, who will again be assessed in April, had hinted at potentially being fit in time to play in the Indian Premier League for the Rajasthan Royals, but will instead make his comeback in the County Championship.

"Following a repeat MRI scan undertaken this week in London, Jofra Archer has been reviewed by the ECB medical team and is progressing as expected from the stress fracture to his right elbow sustained during the South Africa tour in January," the statement read.

"He will have a further scan in mid-April before a return to competitive cricket.

"Archer's focus will be playing for England, starting with the West Indies Test series, which commences in early June.

"He will play County Championship cricket in May for Sussex to ensure his preparation is optimal for Test cricket."

Archer helped England win the Cricket World Cup last year and has played in seven Tests so far in his international career, taking 30 wickets in the longest format at an average of 27.40.

He recently signed a two-year contract extension with Sussex, saying: "I am very happy to commit long term to the club."

England fast bowler Jofra Archer has signed a two-year extension to his Sussex contract.

The 24-year-old, who made his international debut last year, has committed to the county until the end of 2021 season.

Cricket World Cup winner Archer was delighted to agree fresh terms.

"Sussex gave me my opportunity right at the beginning of my career, so I am very happy to commit long term to the club," said the paceman, who signed for Sussex in 2016.

Archer has 55 England wickets across all formats since making his breakthrough at the highest level but is currently sidelined with a low-grade stress fracture of his right elbow. 

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