LONDON: Australia batsman Steve Smith just missed his third hundred in as many innings after returning following a sickening blow to the neck from a Jofra Archer bouncer on the fourth day of the rain-ravaged second Ashes Test against England at Lord’s on Saturday.
The star batsman was on 80 when he turned away from an express delivery from England fast bowler Archer timed at 92.4 mph. The ball struck him on the side of the neck and head.
Smith, fell face forward onto the ground. He was wearing a helmet without the additional neck protection that was introduced following the death of Phillip Hughes after his former Australia team-mate died after being hit by a bouncer in a 2014 domestic Sheffield Shield match in Sydney.
Smith received several minutes of on-field treatment involving both Australian and English medical staff.
He got to his feet but, after a prolonged conversation with Australia team doctor Richard Saw, decided to retire hurt.
Smith received a generous round of applause as he walked back into the pavilion. The right-hander then returned about 40 minutes later and added 12 runs before he was trapped lbw by Chris Woakes.
Australia finished eight runs behind England’s first-innings tally of 258 after a gripping session dominated by a hostile spell by Archer on his Test debut.
The Barbados-born pace bowler removed Australian captain Tim Paine for 23, caught at short leg by Jos Buttler, and hit Smith on the arm before another rapid delivery struck the same batsman’s neck.
Peter Siddle made nine before he edged Woakes to wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow and Smith returned to the crease.
He immediately went on the attack, hitting Woakes for successive boundaries before misjudging a straight delivery. Smith reviewed the decision but replays showed the ball would have hit the stumps and he made his way off to another warm reception.
England quickly wrapped up the tail, spinner Jack Leach removing Nathan Lyon and Stuart Broad snaring Pat Cummins for 20 to leave the rain-affected match finely poised with four sessions remaining.
England took one wicket in the morning session, dismissing Matthew Wade for six when he edged Broad to third slip and Rory Burns held a sharp low catch.
Archer and Woakes beat the bat on several occasions but Smith, who made 144 and 142 in Australia’s emphatic first Test victory, again proved to be an immovable force.
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 258 (R.J. Burns 53, J.M. Bairstow 52; J.R. Hazlewood 3-58, P.J. Cummins 3-61, N.M. Lyon 3-68).
AUSTRALIA (1st Innings, overnight 80-1):
C.T. Bancroft lbw b Archer 13
D.A. Warner b Broad 3
U.T. Khawaja c Bairstow b Woakes 36
S.P.D. Smith lbw b Woakes 92
T.M. Head lbw b Broad 7
M.S. Wade c Burns b Broad 6
T.D. Paine c Buttler b Archer 23
P.J. Cummins c Bairstow b Broad 20
P.M. Siddle c Bairstow b Woakes 9
N.M. Lyon lbw b Leach 6
J.R. Hazlewood not out 3
EXTRAS (B-17, LB-12, W-2, NB-1) 32
TOTAL (all out, 94.3 overs) 250
FALL OF WKTS: 1-11, 2-60, 3-60, 4-71, 5-102, 6-162, 7-218, 8-234, 9-246.
NOTE: Smith (80) retired hurt at 203-6 and resumed at 218-7.
BOWLING: Broad 27.3-7-65-4 (1w); Archer 29-11-59-2 (1nb, 1w); Woakes 19-6-61-3; Stokes 8-1-17-0; Leach 11-3-19-1.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019