Originally published on my Tumblr
A maverick’s strength will often also be their weakness; a phenomenon which brought down Kevin Pietersen, and which Jofra Archer must be aware of as his career goes on.
These two players had similar routes to the top, uprooting themselves from their home country, before having a meteoric rise and impact at the start to their international careers.
Mavericks have a mixture of natural ability, consistency and confidence, that make them entertainers, but also often players who divide opinion.
The combination can rub people up the wrong way, and make them a focal point for criticism in harder times.
Natural brilliance can feel like they think they are better than everyone. Confidence can be perceived as arrogance. And having a vision for where they want to be, can be seen as self-centred, or too individualistic, in a team game.
Like Pietersen, Archer plays in an emotional way, and reacts to his opponents.
KP burst onto the scene in the face of raucous booing in South Africa; which fired him up to score three centuries against his native country. He proceeded to help England win the Ashes, smashing Glenn McGrath onto the Lord’s Pavilion and Shane Warne to all parts.
Pietersen took people on and showed no respect to others’ reputation.
He fundamentally changed England’s approach, yet his name is still synonymous with his off-field antics and claims surrounding his various fallings out with colleagues.
After a World Cup win, and a single Test, Jofra’s reputation on field is on fire.
He was the talk of the Test before, during and after Lord’s, and of course, everyone was gripped by his terrifying pace during the spell, in where he struck Steve Smith on the arm and head, taking him out the game.
Yet, after hitting Smith, he was pictured walking back to mark, while the rest of his team mates went up to Smith to check if he was OK.
Above: Jofra walks back to his mark as Steve Smith lies on the ground.
Shortly after, he was smiling and joking with Jos Buttler, and Shoaib Akhtar took to Twitter to say: “…whenever a bowler hits a batsman on the head and he falls, courtesy requires that the bowler must go & check on him.
It was not nice of Archer to just walk away while Smith was in pain. I was always the first one to run to the batsman.”
He revealed that his “heart skipped a beat”, and videos do appear to show him checking up on the batsman.
But it didn’t look good at the time.
Like Pietersen’s flare and talent, Archer will undoubtedly win England Test matches single-handedly in the future.
But it’s precisely his ability and over-confidence which could sow seeds for discord, like it did with KP.
As England’s new golden boy, not only will he be a target for oppositions, but also for their fans and press, who want to drive a wedge between him and the mere mortals.
While both of these mavericks are different people and players, they are both essentially a ‘once-in-a-generation’ stars. They are formative to how an era of cricketers play.
When things are going well, mavericks are the expression of the side’s strength.
And with there are problems, so often the individualistic players are the fall-guys for cause of friction within a team.