England paceman Jofra Archer said he was fearful immediately after striking Steve Smith at Lord’s with a vicious bouncer during Ashes 2019, in light of the Phil Hughes’ passing after being struck on the neck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match in 2014.
Archer’s spell to Smith at Lord’s was one of the memorable contests between bat and ball, although when Smith copped the blow, Archer’s immediate fears were telling. “In the moment, it was hard to tell where it actually hit him, because the ball went to fine-leg quite quickly,” Archer told Drive on talkSPORT.
“My first reaction was that it hit the helmet, but a few seconds after he went down, everyone was like, ‘Oh no’. We had the stuff with Phil [Hughes] a few years ago and, generally, anything that hits you in that vicinity is going to be trouble.
“I’m just glad that he came out on the other side of it and batted in two games.”
Smith, in fact, retired hurt as part of concussion protocols, but came back out to bat later in the innings. He missed the subsequent Test at Headingley, where Ben Stokes played a knock for the ages to restore parity to the series, but Smith returned at Old Trafford and starred as Australia retained the Ashes in England for the first time in 18 years.
Smith ended the series with 774 runs in seven innings, an incredible average of 110.57. Archer, who is a teammate of Smith’s at IPL side Rajasthan Royals, said he was least surprised by Smith returning to bat at Lord’s, despite copping that blow.
“Archer’s main quality lies in his ability to be different iterations of great bowlers.”@Taha_Wisden on a day where the two leading stars of the series, Jofra Archer and Steve Smith, shone once more.https://t.co/3kLsUwnj9q
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 13, 2019
“I wasn’t surprised when he came back out to bat because I played with him in India and we all know he’s mad for cricket,” Archer said. “To be honest, even if he didn’t come out then, he would’ve come out as the last batsman.
“The concussion wasn’t so weird because they only brought in new rules recently. I was just upset that the replacement batsman [Marnus Labuschagne] came in and batted so well!”