Ashes day three talking points: Smith’s leaving, Archer’s pace

The 2019 Ashes
Archer.celebration.Lord_.s.PA_

Day three was great… while it lasted. We saw Jofra Archer’s maiden Test wicket, Steve Smith performing what can only be described as outrageous dance moves while in the act of leaving the ball, and we saw the likelihood of a draw increasing exponentially despite the fact neither team seem like they have any interest in having a bat.

It’s the Ashes, but not as you know it.

Here are our main talking points from a truncated day three of the second Ashes Test match from Lord’s.

 

1) Steve Smith’s leaving

No, we don’t mean he’s leaving the tour (unfortunately), we’re talking about his leaving of the ball. It’s… well it’s quite simply outrageous.

Does he do it to wind up the opposition bowlers? A form of ‘peacocking’ all over English pitches to force the bowlers into straightening their lines through a mixture of shame, humiliation and emasculation? Possibly, but probably not.

It’s far more likely that it’s just a natural reaction he doesn’t even realise he’s doing until a giggling teammate shows him a twitter clip at the close of play.

Whatever the explanation, we hope it continues, as our eyes have never been so glued to watching a batsman not actually doing any batting.

 

2) The effect of pace

Pace bowling is one of those facets of the game that has a multitude of collateral effects. It’s not rocket science that the faster you bowl, the less time a batsman has to react – leading to an increased chance of the shot being played not resulting how the batsman initially intended for it to be played – simple.

But genuine, searing pace adds so much more to a team in so many different ways.

It was noticeable how Stuart Broad pushed his speeds up into the high 80’s when Archer was steaming in at 90mph+ at the other end. Sportsmen, for all their detachment to the real world, are still people too – people with the same thought processes and basic emotions as you or I.

Archer Broad Ashes PA

When you see Archer troubling the opposition with high-end pace, it’s only natural that those around him rise to the occasion and amp up their speed in an effort to not get left behind in the typical ‘tit-for-tat’ one-upmanship that seeps into the macho-environment of a cricket field.

Secondly, the levels of crowd engagement suddenly surge.

No disrespect to those low-80mph operators, but there’s something far more visceral about seeing the ball whistle past the outside edge and be taken by the wicket-keeper at head-height, than there is from seeing a batsman nonchalantly defend an 82mph cutter in a manner that resembles a sedate nets session.

There was a palpable sense of excitement and theater when Archer had the batsmen hopping around in the morning session. The dull hum of a thousand indistinct conversations taking place simultaneously was replaced by a buzz and a crackle as the atmosphere built up to a crescendo upon execution of Archer’s deliveries.

When a crowd get behind an individual or team, performance levels rise, focus sharpens and those final few strides in the run-up don’t weigh as heavily on the legs.

England now have a steady source of said pace in the form of Jofra Archer, and its benefits will be more than meets the eye for a long time to come.

 

3) The weather

Rain, precipitation, drizzle, cloudburst, God’s tears, call it what you want, it’s a menace for us cricket lovers.

The weather cut today’s play short and in keeping with all things cricket-related being at the mercy of Mother Nature, it has also cut this list short.

Join us tomorrow where (touch wood) the forecast looks a lot brighter.

 

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