Is Jofra the spark England needed?
In a test match that was heavily-interrupted by rain, the contest itself certainly didn’t disappoint between bitter-rivals England and Australia. The hosts threw everything at the Aussies for the best part of 47 overs on the final day of the second Ashes test at Lord’s, but in the end it was a defiant effort from the Australian middle-order to withstand England’s manic pressure with the ball. England-duo Jofra Archer and Jack Leach almost produced a miracle with the ball, only to be stopped in their path by Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head resulting in a draw.
It was the ball that sucked the air out of the entire Lord’s cricket ground on the fourth day of the second test. England debutante Jofra Archer managed to get the ball talking early against the Aussies, but it was his zippy-pace against Australia’s most dominant batsman in the series Steve Smith that sparked enormous controversy at stumps on day four. It proved to be an enthralling contest, Smith was coming off back-to-back hundreds in the first test at Edgbaston which left the Poms somewhat scratching their heads as to how they’d get the unorthodox right-hander out early at Lord’s.
Jofra Archer was more than capable of executing a wicket-taking delivery to dismiss the red-hot Smith, although form would suggest Australia’s No. 4 was going to be no easy scalp. Despite all the planning & preparation that went into unraveling Smith, England couldn’t curve his influence as the former Aussie skipper managed to reach 80 before Archer decided enough was enough. Nobody saw it coming, yet it was probably England’s last resort in terms of testing Smith’s resilience at the crease. An earlier blow to Smith’s forearm inflicted by Archer with a sharp-rising ball left the 30-year-old in some discomfort, but medical attention allowed him to resume his innings.
That delivery by Archer signified that it was game on, England were willing to fight fire with fire. With Archer finding his rhythm with some heat-seeking bouncers, Australia was in danger of collapsing if they already hadn’t at 6-162. The the weight of the match currently on Steve Smith’s shoulders, the fiery-Archer produced a devastating-blow that cannoned into Smith’s upper-neck region just below the helmet. Immediately dropping to the ground and releasing his bat, there was an eerie feeling after what happened to former Australian cricketer Phil Hughes who died as a result of a similar incident back in 2014. Concern surrounded the ground, thankfully Smith was able to walk away unscathed apart from some minor-concussion. The booing Smith received walking off the ground was a horrendous and distasteful act from the English supporters, not a proud moment at Lord’s it has to be said. Smith returned to the crease not long after walking off the field and managed to reach the 90’s, only to be dismissed lbw a couple overs later on 92 by Chris Woakes.
As a result of that blow to the head, Smith is in doubt for the third Ashes test which starts later this week at Headingley. His replacement for the second innings was Marnus Labuschagne who impressed with a half century in his maiden-Ashes test for Australia. There’s no doubt that Australia will want to give Jofra a taste of his own medicine when the time comes, perhaps Mitchell Starc’s searing-pace could be implemented at Headingley. Australia still currently lead the series 1-0.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.