England pacer Jofra Archer on Sunday insisted that he did not intend to hit Steve Smith on the neck, adding that every player on the pitch “skipped a heartbeat” as the Australian cricketer fell flat on the ground. During Australia’s first innings the Barbados-born cricketer repeatedly tested Smith with ferocious bouncers.
Many, including former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar slammed Archer, for not expressing adequate concern about the batsman after he was hit by a bouncer. However, in an interview with BBC Radio before the start of the final day, the debutant England pacer said that his plan was not to inflict pain.
“That is never the plan. You are trying to get a wicket first. To see him go down, everyone stopped and everyone’s heart skipped a beat. After he got up he was moving around and you breathe a sigh of relief. No-one wants to see anyone getting carried off on a stretcher. It was a good challenge, a really good spell. For me, I wouldn’t like to see it end like that,” Archer said.
Smith was forced to return to the dressing room after he was hit by a a 148.7 kmph bouncer in the neck that caused him to collapse. The former Australian skipper was batting on 80 when the incident took place. After 40 minutes, the former Aussie skipper returned to the pitch. However, he was soon trapped LBW on 92 by Chris Woakes.
After the incident, Smith didn’t participate in the final day of the Test match as Marnus Labuschagne became the first concussion substitute in international cricket.
The match eventually ended in a draw as Australia, chasing 267 to beat England, ended on 154/6 after an absorbing final day on Sunday.
Ben Stokes scored a brilliant century and England declared on 258/5 before Archer claimed two early wickets to hint at an unlikely victory. But Labuschagne scored 59, and Travis Head hit an unbeaten 42, to lead the Australians to safety and keep them 1-0 up in the series.