In what was a compelling day of Test cricket, the contest between Steve Smith and Jofra Archer brought the cricketing world to a standstill. England was 96-4 by the end of day’s play after restricting Australia for 250.
Smith and Mathew Wade started the day positively. Stuart Broad removed Wade with a full-length delivery angled across him, which Wade nicked it to Rory Burns in the slips. Tim Paine joined Smith in the middle.
The Australian captain and Smith put up a half-century stand and looked good for a big partnership. Smith completed yet another half-century in this series. Just when things were looking good for Australia, England brought back Jofra Archer with the old ball.
Jofra with his quick arm action and the extra pace began to unsettle Paine with short balls. Tim Paine edged one on to his thigh pad and gave a simple catch to short-leg. Australia was 162-6, leaving Smith to save them again.
Archer continued with the short stuff and occasionally aiming at the stumps.
For the first time in a long time, Smith looked in trouble. Smith was excellent at leaving the balls outside off stump so far. In fact, the way he did and his weird follow through got trending on social media.
Archer Vs Smith
However, he was struggling against Archer. Archer was consistently bowling at over 90 miles per hour in this spell. The pacer hit Smith on his left forearm with a quick delivery that came back in. Smith was visibly suffering in pain. He didn’t want to leave though., Despite the swelling, he taped his forearm, took a pill and batted on.
Smith was struggling to bat after that blow. He capitalized on every scoring opportunity by dismissing them for a boundary. The contest between him and Archer was incredible to watch. It was an exhibition of high-class Test cricket at it’s best. Pat Cummins hung in there to accompany Smith.
The contest between them was so good that every ball something was happening and Root persisted with Archer at one end and Jack Leach at the other. Jofra was sending beamers at one end and Leach with his loopy slow left-arm spin at the other.
Archer was unsettling Smith with short balls as the latter tried to smash a
few and swayed away from the other. One of those deliveries hit smith on the back of his neck, below the helmet and he fell off the ground. Smith was rattled and wasn’t able to stand on his feet for a few minutes. The medical team of both the teams came in and checked on him.
It looked nasty in the replay. For a moment, everyone was on the feet as we knew what could happen on the worst-case scenario. It took some time for Smith to stand and he didn’t want to leave again. Although Smith was lip-read saying “I’m feeling great”, the doctors talked to him and convinced him to leave the field.
It was an awful sight to see him go like that. The entire stadium and long room applauded. There were no boos this time around. Archer was bowling at an average speed of 148.4 KPH. It was an incredible spell of fast bowling, which will be remembered for ages. His numbers did no justification for the way he bowled.
Steve Smith- Never go back
Peter Siddle joined Cummins has they batted together for another 40 minutes. Chris Woakes with the new ball removed Siddle. Smith walked back in amidst a mixed response of applause and boos from the crowd. It was an awful sight to see the English fans boo at a batsman who is walking back to bat after being struck in the head.
Smith smashed back to back boundaries off Woakes and got into his nineties. He left the next ball which came back in sharply and struck him on the pads. Knowing that he didn’t read the swing, Smith started walking. He reviewed the decision on his way to the pavilion, only to be confirmed by the third umpire as out.
He got out on 92. It could have been an incredible century, nevertheless to come back and bat again after such a blow showed immense character and resilience. Broad removed Cummins as England got an eight-run lead in the first innings.
Cummins strikes early
The openers came out to bat and Cummins was quick to remove Jason Roy and Joe Root on successive deliveries. Roy got out fending at a short ball while Root edged an inswinger to the slips. The England captain’s bad form continued. Rory Burns and Joe Denly got together and put up a fifty run partnership.
Australia missed a couple of opportunities as Warner dropped Denly off Siddle and twice they chose not to review for LBW call against Burns. Siddle came back into the attack and removed Denly for a caught and bowled and Burns nicked it to Paine.
Jos Butler joined Ben Stokes in the rescue act. They both remained unbeaten until the end of day’s play. England leads by 102
runs. With an entire day’s play remaining, it will be interesting to see whether Australia can knock England over cheaply and go for the chase in the second innings.
Irrespective of what happens on Day five, this Test match will be remembered for a long time for that incredible inning of Steve Smith and extraordinary bowling of Jofra Archer. Test Cricket may never die as long as contest like this exists.
I am an ardent Cricket fan. Nothing fascinates me like this sport. A chemical engineering graduate pursuing Journalism at Asian College of Journalism. Hardly write about statistics. The contest between bat and ball is everything for me. Love watching Rohit Sharma, Jasprith Bumrah, Kane Williamson and Rabada.