Hostile Archer echoes Harmison '05: Ponting
Aussie legend said last night's Ashes action took him back to the unforgettable opening morning of the classic 2005 series
18 August 2019, 12:55 PM AEST
Ricky Ponting has compared Jofra Archer's exhilarating spell at Lord's on Saturday to the famous opening morning of the 2005 Ashes Test at the same venue, which left the former Australian skipper with blood pouring from his cheek.
But Ponting dismissed the suggestion that Archer's spell could define this current Ashes series, saying Steve Smith will have no fear when he faces the England quick again over the coming weeks.
Archer's thrilling battle with Smith will go down in Ashes folklore and Ponting had no hesitation in comparing it to Steve Harmison's hostile spell on the opening morning of the famous 2005 series. In a spell that set the tone for a classic campaign, Harmison struck openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden and hit Ponting on the helmet, which pushed the grille into the Australian captain's face and drew blood.
"That was a really fiery morning and last night brought back a few memories of what it was like," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"I remember when I got hit, I think 'Vaughny' (England captain Michael Vaughan) said to his players, ‘no-one go and say a word to him and check if he's OK'. Which was fine by me, because my eyes were going a bit as it was, so I reckon I would have told them to get away in no uncertain terms anyway!
"Looking back, that's the way you want to play your cricket. You want to be involved in full-on Ashes battles and that day was as full-on as it got for me as a player. It was on for young and old.
"And watching that last night, it was probably as full-on as it's ever been for Smithy and most of the Australians in Ashes cricket recently."
Ponting expects Archer to try the same hostile approach the next time Smith comes to the crease but said it won't curb the prolific Australian's run-scoring feats, noting that while Archer had left Smith bruised, he hadn't taken his wicket.
And he said Smith will hold no fear the next time he walks to the middle, saying the working over he got from Archer was simply part of being a Test cricketer.
"I don't think it'll be a series-defining spell," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "He's made 92 again. I know he'd made 70 or so before he copped that first knock … and I wouldn't be surprised if they do attack him a bit more now.
"But the one thing I like is that Archer didn't get Smith out. Smithy got through it without losing his wicket. Assuming everything is OK with that blow in the neck, he'll front up and do it all again in the second innings.
"The one thing you don't want to be forced to do is to leave the field because, if anything, that's a win to the bowler. When Kemar Roach hit me in Perth (in 2009, when Ponting ultimately retired hurt due to a blow to the arm), I couldn't hold the bat at all, but I didn't go off until I got through his spell. I went off immediately after his spell finished.
"(Smith coming back onto the ground) might seem incredibly courageous to the average person sitting back and watching it, but that's just what you're expected to do. That's part of the job of being a Test batsman.
"He won't have any fear because it's just what you do every day. You face bowlers in the nets every day and you get hit every now and then. But certainly nothing changes in your mindset."
Ponting added he understands why some batsmen, like Smith, don't wear the Stem Guard attachments on their helmets that protect the back of the lower part of the head and neck.
A Stem Guard would have somewhat cushioned the blow Smith copped from Archer on Saturday, but it's understood the 30-year-old has tried the attachment before and found it restricted his movement.
Ponting acknowledged making Stem Guards mandatory is a "tough" debate given the importance of player comfort when facing express fast bowling.
"I understand why they would want to make it mandatory to wear it," he said. "But I also understand as a player that your helmet is such an individual piece of equipment.
"And obviously Smithy doesn't wear the Stem Guards because it's a comfort thing and he doesn't like the feeling around the back of his neck.
"It must be really uncomfortable for guys not to be wearing it.
"I don't want to sound dismissive of it, but I just know it was always about comfort for me. So I can totally understand why some players don't wear it."
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), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), 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