'Relieved' Archer reflects on Smith encounter
England debutant admits "everyone's heart skipped a beat" when Steve Smith went down during fourth-day contest
Sam Ferris at Lord's
18 August 2019, 08:24 PM AEST
Jofra Archer's hostile bouncer barrage at Steve Smith on day four at Lord's was aimed at rattling, not intentionally harming, the Australian who has put England to the sword this Ashes series.
Archer struck Smith twice in a lightning spell of fast bowling in the afternoon session on Saturday, badly bruising the No.4's left forearm before clocking him in the back of the neck with a vicious bouncer that forced him to retire hurt.
The full house at Lord's collectively gasped as Smith hit the turf, with the tragic memories of the Phillip Hughes incident flooding back to players and supporters of both teams.
“To see him go down, everyone stopped and everyone's heart skipped a beat," Archer told the BBC.
"After he got up and he was moving around, you breathe a sigh of relief.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: "Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking at the time.
"Seeing someone go down, you don't ever want to see anyone getting carried off in a stretcher or you don't want to see anyone missing a day or another game.
"Especially what happened a few years ago as well. It's never a nice sight."
As Smith walked off unassisted alongside Australia's medical staff, veteran seam bowler Peter Siddle made his way to the middle having watched the drama unfold in the dressing room.
"I was a little bit uncomfortable, to be honest," Siddle told cricket.com.au.
"A lot has happened over the last few years and brings back a few not-so-good memories.
"For me as the next batter in I just tried to get away from everyone in the back of the room and just prepared myself for maybe having to go out there.
"That's all I could do. I was a bit nervous walking out to bat but once you're out in the middle the adrenaline kicks in and you just get into batting mode, you just face each ball as it comes and do the best you can."
Smith would return to a rousing reception when Siddle was dismissed 30 minutes later having passed a series of concussion tests.
But after a shaky 15 minutes at the crease, Smith was out lbw to Chris Woakes for 92, remarkably his lowest score of the Ashes series to date after scoring twin hundreds at Edgbaston.
England had tried everything to dismiss Smith this campaign – funky fields, different angles, patience and aggression – but nothing had worked until Archer, who did not play the first Test, cranked up the pace and started digging it in short.
The short-ball approach, which has been successfully used by Australia's pace attack this series, was a last-ditch effort to unsettle Smith, but Archer says hurting the right-hander was not their strategy.
"I was trying to get him out," said Archer, who was clocked at 96mph (155kph) during his electric eight-over spell after lunch.
"We had a short leg, we had a leg slip. He's good at working the ball off his hips and if one bounced a little bit it, can go to short leg or to one of the guys waiting.
"I think he's had a lot of that all series, a lot of balls haven't gone to hand, always landing in the gap.
"Yesterday it was just rare seeing him get out without scoring a hundred as well.
"I was telling the guys yesterday I don't think I've ever seen him get out on his own accord til yesterday. I just tried to get him rattled."
Smith is set to undergo further concussion tests on the morning of day five, but Siddle said the 30-year-old appeared in good spirits.
"He seemed okay this morning," said Siddle.
"He's got to do a couple more tests this morning with the doc and see how he goes there.
"We'll know a little bit more a bit later on."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval