There are probably PhD mathematical equations and theorems that would be easier to solve for England than the conundrum of how to dismiss Steve Smith. For all of Australia’s undoubted bowling riches, Smith is certainly the glue that holds the otherwise brittle Australian batting together.
While the like of Warner and Bancroft struggle, it is the dependable Smith who has so far saved Australia’s bacon in this Ashes series. He is also a man that loves to bat against England, plundering almost 1000 runs in his last ten Ashes innings. It would be fair to say then that England are sick to the back teeth of the man, as he leaves and scores with ease whilst dancing around on the crease, wielding his bat like a musketeer with a sword to both our amusement and frustration.
However, England may have found the man to unsettle him in Jofra Archer. Just as Kryptonite managed to nullify Superman’s powers, perhaps Archer with his pace and aggressiveness is finally the man to deal with Australia's batting machine. Whilst no one would ever wish for a player to get seriously hurt and leave the field, Archer certainly unsettled the former Australian skipper, striking him on the forearm and the head respectively. You can check out the incident in the video below.
Despite Smith’s heroics and bravery in resuming his innings, he was clearly rattled after his joust with England’s new bowling sensation. Have England then, finally found someone to take on the Australians and particularly Smith at their own game - fast, accurate and hostile bowling?
Anyone who witnessed Mitchell Johnson’s dismantling of England at the Gabba in 2013/14 would know that there is no substitute for pace. Over the years, England have produced some world-class seamers in the likes of Broad and Anderson but have lacked a truly quick alternative to turn to when the pitch isn’t doing much.
With a medium pacer's run-up, Archer is suddenly able to generate accurate and aggressive deliveries to surprise the batsman as Smith and Labuschagne will attest. Suddenly, the Australians now have something different to think about and they will now know, with three Tests to go that England will not meekly roll over as they did at Edgbaston without putting up some sort of resistance.
Prior to the second Test at Lord's, Archer came into the Test team amidst much fanfare after his exploits at the World Cup. Whilst is it always dangerous to put too much pressure on a young player just making his way in Test cricket, England clearly have a star in the making and if the Australians didn’t know too much about Archer before, they certainly do now.
Due to the concussion protocols in place in the sport now, Smith will not play at Headingley but should be fit again for the fourth Test at Old Trafford. When he returns, you can be sure that Archer will be summoned by Root to rattle him again.
If England can gain parity at Headingley and if their batsmen can finally work as a cohesive unit to nullify Australia’s bowling attack, the battle between Smith and Archer at Old Trafford could be what decides the destination of the urn this summer. Hold on to your hats! We might just have an Ashes series to remember on our hands.
Also read - Ashes Tickets