Round two of the Ashes battle between Steve Smith and Jofra Archer promises to be “brutal” but brilliant viewing, according to England’s Stuart Broad.
Smith was a notable absentee from the Australia team at Headingley, where Ben Stokes’ majestic performance brought England back from the brink of surrendering the urn in stunning fashion.
The reason for his absence was the 92mph bouncer he received from Archer at Lord’s, which reared up viciously and smashed the batsman’s unprotected neck, forcing him to sit out with concussion.
The 30-year-old will be back in the fourth Specsavers Test and eager to prove his enforced spell on the sidelines has not derailed him after scores of 144, 142 and 92 in the series.
Broad fully expects his team-mate to be up for the challenge and is glad of the front row seat he will be granted at Old Trafford this week.
“It’s great to have Steve back. No-one wants to see anyone miss cricket through a head injury. But Test cricket is a brutal sport, it’s a sport where countries go hell for leather against each other,” he said.
“I’m sure when Steve comes in Jofra will be in Joe Root’s ear wanting the ball, no doubt about that. Jofra will be excited to continue that battle.
“There will be a period in this game where those two come together again and touch wood I’m on the pitch to view it. That’s the intensity Test cricket brings, that’s the theatre.
“I might be stood at mid-on but I’ll be excited when Jofra asks for that ball. It was a really tasty bit of cricket at Lord’s, Smith was on 70 or 80, playing beautifully, and Jofra went from 84mph to 95mph. He was really charging in.
“That sort of cricket is awesome to watch on the telly or from the stands but when you’re stood at mid-on it’s pretty special. Hopefully we can have a battle like that again.”
Broad and Archer will not be joined by local favourite James Anderson on his home turf, the 37-year-old great having admitted defeat in his bid to shake off a calf injury.
England’s record wicket-taker will have been stung by the frustrating end to what is surely his final Ashes contest but has yet to indicate any thoughts of retirement.
And Broad, for one, expects his long-term partner to be back on the big stage again soon.
“He’s got a lot of cricket left in him,” said Broad.
“I don’t know for certain but, from the conversations I’ve had, he’s looking at the winter and getting fit and wanting to be on that trip (to New Zealand).
“I had in my mind the idea that it was almost written in the stars that he would be back, open the bowling at the James Anderson End and bowl us to victory, but that’s not going to happen.”