Ashes: Jofra Archer and return of the disconcerting bouncer

On Test debut, Archer took two wickets in the first innings but his spell of fiery bowling troubled even Smith on many occasions.

Published: 18th August 2019 10:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2019 10:38 PM   |  A+A-

Jofra Archer. (Photo | AP)


LONDON: Jofra Archer's brutish spell at Lord's which knocked Australia's batting mainstay Steve Smith to the ground on Day 4, and get ruled out on Sunday due to concussion, reminded many of the disconcerting bouncer which used to be a quick's main weapon to scare batsmen in Test cricket.

On Test debut, Archer took two wickets in the first innings but his spell of fiery bowling troubled even Smith on many occasions, most in the 77th over when a delivery hit him on the unprotected part of his neck. 

The medics ran into the middle from both sides, as the England players rushed to the former Aussie skipper immediately. As Smith lay on his back before slowly getting back on his feet, he looked dazed.

Smith, who at the outset did not want to leave the field, soon walked back but this time he was not as composed as he was before the knock to his neck, leaving a straight delivery from Chris Woakes which caught him plumb in front of the stumps for 92.

While Smith's bravery was applauded by all, Archer's brutality with the red cherry did not go unnoticed.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting compared Archer's spell to the one that he faced during the famous 2005 series. The series, widely rated as one of the greatest in the longest format of the game, started off with a searing spell from England's Steve Harmison in which he hit Australian openers Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer before hitting Ponting which left him with a bloodied cheek. 

"That was a really fiery morning and last night brought back a few memories of what it was like," Ponting told 

"I remember when I got hit, I think 'Vaughny' (then England captain Michael Vaughan) said to his players, 'no-one go and say a word to him and check if he's OK'. Which was fine by me, because my eyes were going a bit as it was, so I reckon I would have told them to get away in no uncertain terms anyway!"

Archer bowled 29 overs on Day 4 and regularly hit speeds north of 145 kmph. He was also involved in an engrossing battle with Smith. 

However, he also drew flak after footages showed him smiling while Smith was being tended to. It has since left many people on social media steaming, although it has to be noted that those visuals were being shown when Smith had recovered and was starting to walk off.

Interestingly, England's Jos Buttler, with whom Archer seemed to be sharing the joke, was the first man to come to Smith's aid after the latter collapsed.

Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar also criticised Archer, saying that the lacked "courtesy" after bowling a ferocious bouncer that floored Smith.

"Bouncers are a part & parcel of the game but 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," Akhtar tweeted.

But for the young quick gun, who helped England win the World Cup on home soil last month and is already rated as one of the best in the world, his debut spell will be remembered as one which brought to the fore the menace of bouncers.

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