The second Ashes Test ended in a much anticipated draw, after rain unfortunately meant so much time was lost.
This Test will always be remembered for one thing, Jofra Archer.
Archer, playing his debut Test, made an immediate impact as he was involved in one of the most epic battles in Test Cricket in recent times. For all those that can remember, it was reminiscent of the Donald v Atherton battle in 1998.
Archer bowled aggressively, accurately and quickly, often reaching speeds exceeding 90 mph. After having a heavy workload in the Test, bowling 44 overs, England’s management will want to be weary of his workload and ensure he is managed well.
Steve Smith continued in his excellent form and brought up yet another Ashes fifty, even after getting battered and bruised by Archer. It was a truly frightening experience to see Smith hit the ground after getting bounced in the neck by a vicious Archer delivery. He was ultimately ruled out of the remainder of the Test, after suffering with concussion and did not bat in Australia’s second innings.
Enter Marcus Labuschagne, who made history as he became the first player to be used as a concussion substitute since the ICC introduced this rule in July of this year.
It’s bad enough to have to come into a Test on the final day as a concussion substitute, to save a Test, but to have to replace Steve Smith, in the form he’s been in, there was an incredible amount of pressure on Labuschagne’s shoulders.
Full credit to him, as he showed the fight and resolve to survive in those hostile bowling conditions from Archer. Labuschagne made his second Test half-century in fighting circumstances, even after getting hit on the grille on his second delivery faced from Archer.
Together with Travis Head, who finished unbeaten on 42, the pair ensured enough time on the final day had passed that the draw was the only possible outcome, even though England tried their best to force a result, reducing Australia to 154-6 in the final session of the day.
The Australian openers have not made the impact they would have been hoping for when they made their returns to the Test team.
David Warner has had an absolutely horrendous start to his Ashes campaign. After 4 innings, Warner has failed to reach double figures with scores of 3, 5, 2 & 8. He averages a very low 4.5.
Cameron Bancroft hasn’t fared much better, with his scores of 8, 7, 13 & 16. However, if Steve Smith is out of the third Test, starting in only 3 days, they would likely not want to replace both openers.
Australia currently lead the 5-match series 1-0, with three Tests left and all eyes will be on Steve Smith to see if he can recover in time for Thursday’s third Test.
The continuation of the Archer v Smith battle awaits.
The third Test starts on Thursday 22nd August, in Leeds, at 12pm SA time.