Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar slammed Jofra Archer for not expressing concern towards Steve Smith, as the latter fell flat on the deck after being struck in the neck by a 148.7 kmph bouncer on Day 4 of the second Test between England and Australia. Hitting out at the Barbados-born cricketer, Akhtar said that bouncers are part of the game but if a batsman is hit by one then it is the duty of a bowler to show some courtesy towards the player. He further added that in his case he was always the first person to check on the batsman’s well-being.
“Bouncers are a part & parcel of the game but whenever a bowler hits a batsman on the head and he falls, courtesy requires that the bowler must go & check on him. It was not nice of Archer to just walk away while Smith was in pain. I was always the first one to run to the batsman,” Akhtar tweeted.
Bouncers are a part & parcel of the game but whenever a bowler hits a batsman on the head and he falls, courtesy requires that the bowler must go & check on him. It was not nice of Archer to just walk away while Smith was in pain. I was always the first one to run to the batsman.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) August 18, 2019
Smith on Friday was forced to leave the pitch after a ferocious 148.7 kmph bouncer bowled by the debutant struck him in the neck. The former Australian skipper who is in incredible form was batting on 80 when the incident occurred.
After being hit with the bouncer, Smith immediately fell on the pitch and remained flat on the ground for a long period, as he received treatment from the medical staffs of both the teams. He was then escorted to the dressing room despite showing reluctance to leave the pitch. However, after forty minutes the former Aussie skipper returned but was soon trapped LBW on 92 by Chris Woakes.
However, a section of fans hurled abuses and booed Smith while he returned to continue his innings. Responding to the indecent behaviour portrayed by the fans, Mitchell Johnson and Australia’s cricket union slammed the fans.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), which represents players, said it was wrong to hurl abuse at an injured player. “Cricket deserves much better than that. And Lord’s, the home of cricket, deserves much better than that also,” president Greg Dyer and chief executive Alistair Nicholson said in a joint statement. What we witnessed was bravery from an outstanding young man. It should be commended not vilified. Over the English summer, generally the crowds have been terrific and really added to the contest. But when someone is hurt, yet the boos continue, it’s time to call ‘enough’.”
Johnson, who starred in Australia’s 5-0 win in Ashes 2013-14 with 37 wickets, felt disappointed and said that the section of people who booed Smith cannot be called “cricket fans.”
“One of the biggest disappointing things for me was the crowd and I am not saying it was the whole crowd, but there were a couple of boos that you could hear through the microphone or the effects, which really disappointed me when Steve Smith came back out to bat” Mitchell Johnson said in a video tweeted by ESPNcricinfo.
I get the pantomime of @stevesmith49 arrival to the crease and the booing but please stop booing once he plays with great skill,courage and incredible discipline !!! he deserves a standing ovation for that innings … #Ashes #Lords
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) August 17, 2019
“I do not care what people say. Yes, they can say he is a cheat and whats why we are booing him but that is absolute rubbish to me. Yes, he has done what he has done,” he said.
“You can boo him when he comes out to bat at the start of innings, but seeing him getting booed when he came back out after being struck by Archer, that was disappointing. The majority of the fans were here up, but there was that. To me they are not cricket fans,” the former Aussie cricketer added.
If there is anyone who bowls a meaner, crueller, better disguised bouncer than Jofra Archer, he hasn’t been seen yet.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) August 17, 2019
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen, on the other hand, applauded Archer for his incredible show and asked “why wasn’t he picked for the first Test?”
Every headline is about Archer & his pace & his delivery to Smith…EVERY ONE! Almost every single one since his SUPER OVER BRILLIANCE!
Why wasn’t he picked for the 1st Test?
— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) August 18, 2019
Ponting compared the spell with the one England’s Steve Harmison bowled during the famous 2005 Ashes series, in which he hit Australian openers Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer before leaving the former skipper with a bloodied cheek.
“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 is 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.”
Jofra Archer, who is playing his first Test, picked up the wickets of Aussie opener Cameron Bancroft and skipper Tim Paine as Australia could only manage 250 in response to England’s 258. In the final day, Jos Buttler along with Ben Stokes will resume the England innings from the overnight score of 96/4 as the hosts have a lead of 104 runs.