England vs Australia: Day four of second Ashes Test in a nutshell

Steve Smith’s stoicism, Jofra Archer’s arrows and helmet enhancements. Drama wasn’t in short supply on a thrilling fourth day at Lord’s.

The Report

Smith fell eight runs short of another Ashes century before England stumbled their way to 96-4 at the close of a thrilling day of Test cricket, writes Sam Drury at Lord’s.

Scorecard | Commentary

Chris Woakes eventually dismissed Smith, plumb lbw as he shouldered arms to an in-swinger, but it was a staggering spell of quick bowling from Archer to the former Australia captain that captivated the crowd during a mesmerising afternoon session on day four.

Archer topped out at 96.1mph during a fiery eight-over burst, hitting Smith twice, the first coming as the batsman ducked into a bouncer and was smashed on the forearm, causing a lengthy delay before Smith was flattened by another rapid bumper, after taking a sickening blow just below his left ear.

Moment of the Day

Forced off for concussion tests after being knocked flat by Archer, Smith returned after 40 minutes off the pitch to a standing ovation from many fans – and some petty booing from some. Bruised on both his left arm and his head but unbowed, it was a courageous act and one that reinforced the message already sent out by his resilience at the crease – you shall not pass.

That single-mindedness to bat, almost at any cost, was exemplified as he slogged his second ball faced from Chris Woakes over wide mid-on for four, before following up with a classy punch off the back foot for four. It was as clear as a statement could be that this was a man going nowhere if he had anything to do with it.

History beckoned as he moved to within sight of becoming the first man to score four consecutive Test hundreds in England, but it slipped from his grasp as he failed to spot a Woakes inswinger – Smith walking off before calling for the DRS review, then barely waiting for the decision in his befuddlement. Super stoicism nonetheless.

Stats of the Day

At one point in that spell after lunch, Jofra Archer bowled 16 deliveries in a row that were all over 90mph. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/wmRAg2WiBW

Joe Root has been dismissed first ball for the first time in 153 Test innings. Duck. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/kVxD5j1Ynv

Talking point

Should it be compulsory for Test batsmen to wear a helmet with a stem shield neck protector?

The issue of player safety resurfaced in the split second it took Jofra Archer to floor Steve Smith with a short delivery – a horrific moment that instantly brought to mind the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, who passed away after being hit by a bouncer in 2016.

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Neck protectors that could be fixed to helmets were subsequently brought in but as yet are not a compulsory piece of equipment. Should they be? Kumar Sangakkara, incoming MCC president, believes so.

“I think there should be minimum safety standards that a helmet should meet,” he told Sky Sports. “Research is being done with the medical advisory committee of the MCC, Loughborough University and the ECB to find out the best way to improve them and whether they need to lobby the Bristish Standard Institue to have an industry-wide standard for these neck protectors. But sooner rather than later, it needs to be set in stone that for players playing international cricket they need a helmet that protects the most vulnerable areas of the neck and head.”

Tweets of the Day

This is serious test cricket !! Archer vs Smith.

Today is why test cricket is the greatest sport

Jofra is different gravy.. what a spell of bowling this is ??? #Ashes

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

Brutal 95mph bowling from Archer… incredible courage from Smith… Ashes cricket at its most thrilling & combative. #Lords https://t.co/CmccxJzXqE

Never seen an umpire call dead ball so quick as Dar did there. Smith was still in the air on the way down.

I have another couple of looks at this .. and I feel it might have been a bit close to leave !! Great listening to Mitchell Johnson this morning https://t.co/zueaNMuW2O

What they said

Nasser Hussain: “We saw a world-class player in Smith – arguably the greatest player in Test cricket – playing comfortably until Archer came on. No-one really enjoys playing fast bowling but some play it better than others. It was an unbelievable spell from Archer. It was serious pace.”

Shane Warne: “No-one likes to see someone get hurt on a cricket field and there was a moment there when you feared the worst. Smith didn’t want to go off but he had to, to do all the concussion tests. He showed a lot of courage to come back out.”

Mike Atherton: “The whole history of the game is littered with players who have changed the course of a game by bowling history. The point we all made before this Test was that Smith has been running riot against England – he’s averaged 139 in the last six Test matches – but at no stage in those six matches have England have had someone able of bowling consistently above 85mph. Now they do and that adds another dimension.”

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