Australia plot upset against hosts England

England’s Jofra Archer bowling during a training session at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds ahead of the clash with Australia in the third Ashes Test match today.
England’s Jofra Archer bowling during a training session at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds ahead of the clash with Australia in the third Ashes Test match today. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON • Australia coach Justin Langer has told his side to avoid being drawn into a bouncer battle after Steve Smith was ruled out of the third Ashes Test against England.

Star batsman Smith suffered delayed concussion symptoms after being hit on the neck by a 150kmh bouncer from England fast bowler Jofra Archer during the drawn second Test at Lord's.

His absence from the third Test at Headingley starting today leaves Australia with a huge hole to fill.

Smith marked his return to Test cricket after a 12-month ball-tampering ban with innings of 144 and 142 during the 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston in the five-match series.

He also made 92, having retired hurt after being hit when on 80, at Lord's where Test cricket's first concussion substitute, Marnus Labuschagne, made a 50 in the second innings after being hit flush on the grille of his helmet by Archer.

Fast bowler Archer struck several telling blows on a Test debut that yielded five wickets.

Australia have plenty of fast-bowling firepower themselves in Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

But Langer insisted his side would not be sidetracked from their goal of becoming the first Australia team in 18 years to win an Ashes series in England.

"We know what our plans are to beat England," he said.

"It's not an ego game. We're here to win the Test match, not to see how many bruises we can give.

"That's not winning Test matches, trust me. You can't get out with a bruise on your arm.

"I'm sure the bouncer will still be part of every bowler's armoury. If it helps us get batsmen out, then we'll use it."

He was also impressed not only by Archer's pace but also his economy rate in London, where he conceded about two runs per over and finished with 5-91.

Langer said his side would have to figure out how to score runs off the Barbados-born right-armer.

"Our guys play a lot of short-ball cricket in Australia - we tend to play on bouncy wickets... so they're used to playing off the back foot and I'm sure they'll prepare accordingly," said the former Australia opener. Smith and England opener Rory Burns apart, both top orders have struggled in the face of some quality fast bowling.

But England have stuck by Jason Roy, even though the World Cup-winning opener has averaged just 10 in four innings this series. He is mainly a middle-order batsman in first-class cricket with Surrey.

England coach Trevor Bayliss hinted at a reshuffle in the batting line-up, if not in personnel.

"We think we've got the best seven batters available... whether we can change it round and make that (order) any better, I'm not sure, but we'll certainly have a discussion about it," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

3RD ASHES TEST

Day 1: Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 6pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2019, with the headline 'Australia plot upset against hosts England'. Print Edition | Subscribe