London: England’s Jofra Archer said that he did breathe a sigh of relief when former Australia skipper Steve Smith got up after being hit on the neck by a bouncer bowled by the 24-year-old on fourth day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Archer clarified that hurting the batsman was never the idea. “It is never the plan. You are trying to get a wicket first. To see him go down, everyone stopped and everyone’s heart skipped a beat,” Archer said.
Archer lighted up Lord’s on his Test debut with some hostile fast bowling. He took five wickets across two innings and peppered the Australian batsmen with short deliveries that clattered against their helmets and bodies. One of those forced Smith to retire hurt after the ball hit the prolific former Australian captain on the left side of his neck and he collapsed immediately.
Smith eventually managed to recover and walk off. While Archer earned praise from many quarters for his impact on the match and possibly the series, there were some who chastised him for not showing enough concern for Smith after the latter was on the ground.
“After he got up he was moving around and you breathe a sigh of relief. No one wants to see anyone getting carried off on a stretcher,” Archer told BBC. “It was a good challenge, a really good spell. For me, I wouldn’t like to see it end like that.”
England captain Joe Root was all praise for debutant pacer Archer. “He’s come in and made a massive impact,” Root said. “He’s added a different dynamic to our bowling group and has given Australia something different to think about.”
Archer, who has made waves in the County circuit in England and T20 leagues around the world in the past couple of years, finally got his England nod at the 2019 World Cup. He played a pivotal role in England’s win, bowling the Super Over against New Zealand in the final and was included in the squad for the Ashes.
He was benched in the first Test but with James Anderson being ruled out of the second Test with an injury, Archer finally made his debut in the longest format of the game.
“It’s pleasing to see someone come in on Test debut, shake up things and live up to the hype - even some of the hype he put on himself,” said Root.
“It makes for a very interesting last three games. He makes things happen with such a unique action and natural pace, which is always in the game on any surface. That with the skill of the others, makes for a tasty combo.
“Things can change very quickly in sport. At the start of the week we wanted a big response and we have definitely done that. It felt like we put them under huge pressure. It shows how much we’re in this series.”
Ben Stokes, who was Man of the Match in the second Test, said that Archer was a “seriously exciting talent”.
“It’s brilliant to have someone like that in your team. Much rather have him on our side than on anyone else’s. He’s announced himself on the world stage yet again,” he added.