Steve Harmison on Jofra Archer: Nobody likes seeing batsmen get hit, but fast bowlers have a job to do

Jofra Archer’s vicious spell of fast bowling against Steve Smith at Lord’s evoked memories of Steve Harmison during the famous 2005 Ashes series.

The former England quick roughed up Australia’s top order with the short stuff, drawing blood from captain Ricky Ponting, and clattering openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden on the head.

Archer is probably the most intimidating England bowler since Harmy’s heyday, with the 24-year-old reaching a frightening top speed of 96.1mph on his Test debut last week.

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Archer was too hot to handle for Australia
Getty Images – Getty

That sort of pace represents danger for a batsman, as Smith discovered when he was floored by a brutal bouncer at 92mph.

Concussion has since ruled the Aussie talisman out of the third Test at Headlingley – which starts today – sparking a debate about the nature of short bowling.

But Harmison insists that while it might be unpleasant, fast bowlers have a job to do.

“It’s not nice,” he told talkSPORT. “As a quick bowler, you’re there to do your job. It’s intimidating.

“Nobody likes seeing batsmen get hit, but it’s been in the game from the day dot. They were doing it 45 years ago and they weren’t even wearing helmets. They batted differently and they found a way.

“I remember being in Perth when Brett Lee hit Alex Tudor in the head. He was rushed off to hospital and I was in next. What was the first thing Lee did the next ball? Bouncer. ‘Have another one’.”

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Smith was involved in an epic duel with Archer on Saturday
Getty Images – Getty

It’s hard enough to pick a bouncer at 92mph, but Archer’s rhythmic action makes him even more slippery.

And Harmison explains the science which makes dodging a short ball almost impossible at times.

“It’s up to the batsman to pick the line of the ball and have the ability to get out of the way and sway,” he added.


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“If you’re bowling over 84mph, batting becomes impossible because it takes 0.24 seconds for your eyes to communicate with your brain [and the ball travels faster than that].

“So anything over 84mph, there’s a little bit of guesswork.”

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