Jofra Archer’s latest spell of thunderous fast bowling narrowly failed to deliver an Ashes-levelling victory at Lord’s but England captain Joe Root believes the debutant has reset the course of the series.
England made a bold push on day five of the second Specsavers Test, declaring 266 ahead after Ben Stokes’ unbeaten 115 and then reducing the tourists to 154 for six in a tense final session.
Just as he had been in the first innings Archer was at the centre of things again, taking three for 32 and sending down a number of ferocious deliveries at more than 90 miles per hour.
Archer had already forced star batsman Steve Smith to withdraw from the match with a delayed concussion caused by a 92mph bouncer to the neck on Saturday, and landed another frightening blow that smashed Marnus Labuschagne square in the grille.
Labuschagne was on the field as Smith’s concussion substitute, Test cricket’s first, and went on to top-score with 59.
Root did not demur when it was suggested that Archer might have the same kind of influence as Australia’s Mitchell Johnson, whose express speed saw him claim 37 wickets in the 2013/14 edition.
“Potentially. He’s come in and he really has made a massive impact, added a different dynamic to our bowling group and has given Australia something different to think about,” said Root.
Me getting out of bed tomorrow morning pic.twitter.com/dQ6FK91EWr— Jofra Archer (@JofraArcher) August 18, 2019
“It’s really pleasing to see someone come in on Test debut and really shake up things and live up to the hype – even some of the hype that he put on himself.
“He makes things happen when not many others in world cricket can. Such a unique action and way of bowling, and obviously natural pace, which is always going to be in the game on any surface.
“When you’ve got that and the skill of other guys around, it makes for a tasty combination and I think that’s one of the reasons why we always felt we were in the game tonight and always felt we could get a result right to the end there. It makes for a very interesting last three games.”
England will name their third Test squad on Monday morning, with the injured James Anderson (calf) expected to be absent again but potential additions to the fragile batting line-up.
For Australia the biggest issue now surrounds whether or not Smith takes the field in Leeds on Thursday.
That would be just four days after being diagnosed with a head injury, a worryingly brief turnaround given the nature of his exit from the last match.
Smith has already said he will aim to play in the game provided he gets the green light from Cricket Australia’s medical team, led by the specialist doctor Richard Saw.
A Cricket Australia statement released on Sunday evening read: “Steve Smith had a precautionary scan of his neck on Sunday which, as expected, cleared him of any structural damage.
“After the scan Steve returned to the team hotel to rest and he will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.”
Steve Smith accepts his withdrawal from the second Ashes Test with delayed onset concussion was the right decision but has already declared his intention to be back on the field at Headingley on Thursday.
Smith was felled on the fourth afternoon when a 92mph Jofra Archer bouncer struck him in the neck, forcing the Australian to retire hurt after lengthy treatment only to complete his innings little more than 40 minutes later.
At that stage he had passed all the on and off-field testing protocols but he gave an unsteady performance after returning to the crease and he woke up on Sunday morning reporting a headache and feelings of grogginess.
Follow-up tests showed his results had deteriorated and Cricket Australia became the first side to initiate the concussion substitute rules that were introduced by the International Cricket Council just this month, with Marnus Labuschagne the first such replacement.
Smith had argued against coming off in the immediate aftermath of the blow and was eager to return as soon as possible but had no complaints about being pulled from the match once his condition became clear.
“I woke up feeling a little bit groggy and with a headache again, I had some tests done and upon further assessment it was deemed to be a mild concussion unfortunately,” he told CA.
Joe Root on Steve Smith.— Samuel Ferris (@samuelfez) August 18, 2019
'It was a horrible moment. All of us in the dressing room wish him a speedy recovery. We'll be preparing as if he's playing the third Test' #Ashes
“The results changed slightly, they declined a little bit. With the tests I’ve done and how I’ve woken up, it’s the right decision.
“I’d love to be out there trying to keep performing and trying to help Australia to win another Test match but the right decision has been made and I’ll be monitored very closely for the next few days.”
It is just five years since Smith’s friend and team-mate Phil Hughes died after being hit by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match and, although CA has undoubtedly led the way on head injuries and concussion substitutes, questions will be asked over whether or not Smith should have been allowed to bat again.
Having passed both computerised and non-computerised assessments, Australia doctor Richard Saw saw no reason to step in but it is now apparent that Smith was in a vulnerable position and would have been prone to further damage had he been hit again.
That made it all the more surprising to hear he is intending to prove his fitness for the third Test in Leeds, which begins just four days after his diagnosis.
“It’s obviously a quick turnaround between Test matches and I’m going to be assessed over the next five or six days, each day probably a couple of times., to see how I’m feeling and progressing,” he said.
“To see him go down, everyone stopped and everyone's heart skipped a beat.— Test Match Special (@bbctms) August 18, 2019
"After he got up and he was moving around, you breathe a sigh of relief. No-one wants to see anyone getting carried off on a stretcher."@JofraArcher on the ball that struck Steve Smith.#bbccricket pic.twitter.com/bQgihNjb1u
“Hopefully I will be available for that Test match. It’s up to the medical staff and we’ll have conversations…it’s certainly an area of concern, concussion, and I want to be 100 per cent fit.
“I have to be able to train probably a couple of days out and then face fast bowling to make sure my reaction time and all that kind of stuff is in place – there are a few tests I have to tick off and time will tell.”
Smith’s optimism does not appear to be shared by the governing body, with a statement from CA casting doubt on his appearance.
“In terms of Steve’s availability for the third Test, this will be considered over the coming days but the short turnaround to the next Test is not in his favour. Steve’s fitness will be assessed on an ongoing basis,” it read.
CA guidelines rule out any return to physical activity for 24 hours, after which it must be a graduated process taken under constant review.
The ICC’s most recent review on the subject recommends a week away from action and the England and Wales Cricket Board does not allow for a return to full training before at least six days have passed.
More encouragingly, Smith appears ready to try wearing a protective stem guard again – the extra layer of neck protection introduced following the Hughes tragedy but shunned by some players as being uncomfortable.
“That is certainly something I need to have a look at and perhaps try in the nets and see if I can find a way to get comfortable with it,” said Smith.
Provided by Press Association Sports
Jofra Archer’s sensational duel with Steve Smith on Day Four of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s had the entire cricket world stand up to take notice and the West Indies born pacer was at it again on the final day in one of the most hostile spells of red-ball bowling.
The right-arm fast bowler’s nasty bouncer to Smith meant that the Australia batsman did not take the field on Sunday due to a concussion and Archer did an encore by almost knocking out Marnus Labuschagne in similar style.
His ferocious display of short-pitched bowling on day five at Lord’s was the highlight of the day with the England pacer showing he is here to stay in the Test format.
Australia held on for the draw in the end but Archer’s remarkable debut will be talked about for some time. Here, we take a closer look at his performance in Australia’s second innings.
Runs conceded: 32
Archer shared the new-ball responsibilities with Stuart Broad and wasted no time in making an instant impact for the hosts. The England pacer ended David Warner’s misery at the crease by finding a sharp edge off the left-hander’s bat before adding a second wicket to his name with the very next over by having Usman Khawaja caught behind by Jonny Bairstow.
The fast bowler returned in the final hour as England made a desperate push for victory and added the scalp of Australia skipper Tim Paine after Joe Denly pulled off a blinder of a catch.
While he had taken his time to get going in the first innings of his debut Test, Archer looked completely at home in the format by the time he was bowling on Sunday.
The 24-year-old’s natural movement away from the left-handers was what helped him knock off Warner and Khawaja in quick succession in what was a terrific first spell by Archer.
Archer made excellent use of the Lord’s slope to move the ball both ways. He bowled against the slope in his first spell and got the ball to move away from left-handers while generating the opposite movement while bowling with the slope in his second spell.
His pace constantly hovered around the 145-150kmph mark but it was the unrelenting intensity that impressed most about his bowling on Sunday. Joe Root leaned heavily on Archer during the first 20 overs of Australia’s innings and the pacer went full throttle throughout that period with barely any break in his spells.
His second spell was a masterpiece on its own without fetching any wickets and he constantly made Marnus Labuschagne hop and jump with some mean bouncers directed towards the body.
Steve Smith’s concussion replacement was given a warm welcome by Jofra Archer 😳— Jay Taylor (@JayTaylorMedia1) August 18, 2019
Archer’s short of a length bowling at express pace was menacing throughout for the Aussie batsmen but the pacer perhaps missed a trick by not going full more often. While he served up plenty of chin music for the visitors, Archer could have used his trademark yorker as a surprise element.
VERDICT – 9/10
Archer’s introduction couldn’t have been any more impressive with the Barbados-born pacer changing the complexion of the series. His engrossing battle on Day Four with Smith will go down as one of the best ever and the manner in which he tested arguably the best batsman in the world will make plenty of Aussie batsmen worried for the remainder of the series.
It is hard to believe that Archer is a red-ball rookie but his electric debut performance will make England believe that not only can they come back to level the series, but that they can even harbor ambitions of regaining the urn in the remaining three Tests.
The cricket world might just have to start getting used to the sight of Archer knock batsmen down to the ground with his brutal style of bowling and he looks destined to have a top Test career for England.
Justin Langer had expressed his reservations about Archer’s ability to make the red-ball step up but the England pacer has not only made the Aussie coach eat his words, he will also be giving him plenty of sleepless nights heading up to the Leeds Test.