Barbados-born England pacer Jofra Archer had a memorable Test debut during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s. He announced himself on the biggest stage with a hostile spell of fast bowling which put even the likes of Steve Smith in all sorts of discomfort during the course of the game, reminding fans of the famous bodyline series. Even though the second Ashes Test ended in a draw, it provided cricket lovers across the world with a glimpse of what was there in store in the future.
One of the moments of the game — although it led to the England player skipping a beat — was when Archer bowled a ferocious bouncer to Smith which floored the former Australian skipper.
Smith, who had struck twin centuries in the Ashes 2019 opener, was on 80 not out on the fourth afternoon when he was struck in the neck by a steepling 92.4mph (148 kmph) bouncer from the debutant.
The Archer delivery which made Smith retire was a unique one in the sense that it wasn’t that short. However, it was the pace of 92.4mph that made it such a lethal delivery and gave fans and cricketers the fright.
Former England cricketer Mark Ramprakash has now weighed into how Australian batsmen can tackle the fiery bouncers of Archer. In his column for Daily Mail, Ramprakash wrote that batsmen could try to play him from the back foot as it will give them a bit more time.
‘If you’ve got a couple of people for company at short leg and leg slip, you don’t really want to be getting your hands up too high when defending the short ball, because if it hits high on the bat it brings those fielders into play,’ Ramprakash wrote in his column.
‘The Australians could try not getting so far forward, allowing more time and flexibility to get out of the way of the short ones.
‘It was a slightly different angle, but I remember AB de Villiers doing that to Mitchell Johnson when he was bowling very quickly,’ he added.
Marnus Labuschagne, who replaced Smith as Test cricket’s first ever concussion substitute, too had to face the fire from the 24-year-old England pacer on the fifth day of the Test match. Just like Smith, Archer served up another brutal short ball — just the second one that Labuschagne faced — that struck the batsman flush on the helmet grill.
‘There are two ways of going with Jofra. Because he gets quite close to the stumps, his arm is very straight, and he is very similar to Shaun Pollock in that the short ball is not only very quick but on the money. So you can get across in the line of the ball, and then when it’s short try to duck to allow it to go over your left shoulder,’ Ramprakash wrote.
‘The only problem with that is the ball does angle into the right-hander’s body and that can cramp you for room.
‘Conversely, you could stay on leg stump. This way you would have the ball more outside your eyeline. That’s the way Robin Smith and Allan Lamb batted against West Indies. It allows you to cut whenever there is width outside off stump. Those two were very strong at that, even upper-cutting over the slips,’ he added.
((With IANS inputs))