Australia batsman Steve Smith was battered by a charged up England quick Jofra Archer on the fourth day of the Lord’s Ashes Test on Saturday, eventually falling short of a century after getting hit on the back of the neck.
Smith retired hurt during a fiery spell from Archer, who hit a top speed of 96mph. The Aussie batting mainstay was first struck on the forearm by an Archer bouncer in the 71st over when he was batting on 70. After getting assessed by the physio, Smith continued to bat with an arm guard, even though he was clearly in discomfort.
By that time, Smith had been rattled by Archer, who at one point bowled 16 deliveries in a row over the 90mph mark.
To the people who boo'ed Smith for returning to bat, the game isn't for you. We're better without you.— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) August 17, 2019
Then when on 80, Smith ducked into a 92.4mph bouncer by Archer that hit the batsman flush on the back of the neck. Smith’s helmet did not have the protective neck guard, which has been introduced in the game following the tragic death of Aussie batsman Phil Hughes who got struck by a bouncer at almost the same spot.
Smith went down immediately and remained on the ground for a long duration as the medical team assessed the batsman. He had to retire hurt with the score on 203-6. There was a mix of warm applause and boos as Smith walked off the ground.
Cricket Australia (CA) then followed concussion protocols to see if Smith was out of danger and whether the team needed a substitute. He was cleared to bat, with CA saying in a statement: “Team doctor Richard Saw made the precautionary decision to remove Steve from the field of play to have him further assessed under Cricket Australia’s head impact protocol. Steve then passed his assessments and will now be monitored on an ongoing basis.”
When next man Peter Siddle got out in the 86th over, Smith walked out to bat and was booed by the Lord’s crowd again, as has been the case throughout the tour with English fans targeting Smith for the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
However, the Aussie batsman couldn’t last long as he missed a straight ball from Chir Woakes and shouldered arms to be out plumb lbw, which was upheld on review, for 92.
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Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne will coach the Lord’s-based London team in next year’s ‘The Hundred’.
The 49-year-old, who took 708 Test wickets, has previous coaching experience with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
Warne becomes the fourth Australian coach to be announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board for ‘The Hundred’, following the appointments of Andrew McDonald, Simon Katich and Darren Lehmann.
Warne said: “I’m very proud and very honoured to be asked to be the head coach of The Hundred team based at Lord’s.
“The opportunity to coach in a brand-new tournament and work with modern-day players is something that I will really enjoy and I am looking forward to the challenge.
“This tournament will unearth some heroes and hopefully some future World Cup stars for England and other countries.
“I love the concept of The Hundred and it has grabbed my attention in the same way the IPL did.
“We built a team from scratch with a diverse range of players from different backgrounds and ages and I can’t wait to build the same mix of players to entertain the fans who come down to Lord’s for The Hundred.”
Former Australia Women’s coach Lisa Keightley will coach the women’s Lord’s-based London team.
Who is the greatest of them all? Can we truly know with certainty?
Well, nothing is certain in life. But we can be almost sure. And going by recent results and statistics, Australia run-machine Steve Smith can be safely called the greatest Test batsman of the current era.
All debates around the best batsmen of these times revolve around the awesome foursome (cheesy, I know) –Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root.
If we restrict ourselves to Test cricket – the most challenging and ultimately fair format – all four have about the same amount of runs under their belt; Root has 6,803 runs, Kohli 6,613, Smith 6,485, and Williamson 6,139.
The difference is the average of the batsmen and also the conversion rate.
Smith has by far the best average among the four – 62.96. In fact, that average is the second best in the history of the game –only behind the great Don Bradman. Kohli and Kane average 53 and some change while Root’s average has fallen a shade under 49.
Admittedly, Smith has remained not out the most number of times – 16 – but both Kane and Root have been unbeaten on 12 occasions so that is not the only reason for a nearly 10-run gap in average, which is a gulf in cricketing terms.
When it comes to conversion rate, Smith is good once again – 25 tons and 24 fifties. But Kohli is better at 25 centuries and 20 half-centuries. Root is down at 16 tons and 42 fifties.
Also, only two out of Smith’s 25 tons have ended in a losing cause. Seven of Virat’s 25 centuries have ended in defeat. Kane has hit 20 tons with two of them ending up in a losing cause, while Root has yet to taste defeat when he has scored a century.
The most definitive stat when comparing the four is the home and away numbers in Test. Smith averages more than 77 at home and almost 57 outside Australia. No one comes even close to his away Test average with Kohli nearing 47, Williamson the same and Root under 43.
Shuffling all those stats, the picture that emerges puts Smith head and shoulders above his contemporaries in Test batting. Not only does he have the second highest average in the history of the game, his average away from batsmen friendly Australia is brilliant. He has more centuries than fifties and has remained unbeaten more times than others.
Sure, when we talk about overall batting, Kohli emerges as the top all-format, all-condition batsman because his ODI record is one of the best the world has seen. Also, the India’s skipper’s nearly 600-run effort in the bowler-dominated 2018 Test series in England is unlikely to be bettered; remember a big portion Smith’s twin 140s came on flat conditions in Edgbaston with no James Anderson in the attack.
We are lucky to be living in a time where four truly remarkable batsman are playing the game. And Smith averages at least 10 more than three of them.