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August 19, 2019

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Smith out of test with concussion

Australia’s Steve Smith was ruled out of the last day of the second Ashes test against England at Lord’s with concussion, Cricket Australia announced yesterday.

Smith was felled when a Jofra Archer bouncer struck his neck on Saturday.

“I started to feel a little bit of a headache coming on last night as the adrenaline got out of my system but I was able to get a good night’s sleep in, but I woke up feeling a bit groggy and with a headache again,” Smith said.

“I had some tests done and then some further assessments deemed to be a mild concussion, so I’ve been ruled out of this test match unfortunately.”

The series is the first being played under the International Cricket Council’s new concussion substitute regulations, part of the inaugural World Test Championship, which allow players who have suffered head or neck injuries to be replaced fully by a substitute, who was previously restricted to fielding alone.

Marnus Labuschagne, on the field as 12th man when play resumed yesterday, became the first concussion substitute in test history after Australia’s request was approved by match referee Ranjan Madugalle.

Labuschagne can now bat or bowl in Smith’s place if required.

There are doubts whether star batsman Smith will feature in the third test at Headingley starting on Thursday, with a team spokesman saying “the short turnaround is not in his favor.”

Smith was hit by an Archer bouncer when on 80 on Saturday and retired hurt.

He resumed his innings at the fall of the next wicket after 46 minutes off the field, and was eventually out for 92 — the first time this series he had been dismissed for fewer than 100 runs.

The spokesman added: “Steve reported that his left arm which was also struck (by Archer) during his innings yesterday was ‘much better’” and that as part of further testing yesterday, Smith “demonstrated some deterioration.”

“On that basis Steve has been withdrawn from the match by team doctor Richard Saw.”

Explaining how Smith had been allowed to resume his innings, he said: “It is not uncommon for players to pass their tests and feel well on the day of an injury and then display symptoms 24-48 hours later. “Steve’s fitness will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

“Steve will undergo a precautionary scan on his neck on Sunday.”

Significantly, Smith was wearing a helmet without the additional stem guard neck protection introduced following the death of Phillip Hughes after his former Australia teammate was hit by a bouncer in a 2014 domestic Sheffield Shield match in Sydney.

“He (Smith) just doesn’t feel right (wearing a stem guard),” Australia coach Justin Langer said after stumps on Saturday.

“I know they came in after the tragedy of Hughesy. He might rethink it now after seeing what happened today, but you’d have to ask him that.

“At the moment, the players have a choice and I wouldn’t be surprised if they become mandatory in the future.”

Meanwhile Archer, criticized on social media for not showing enough concern for the stricken Smith, said yesterday he had been deeply worried when the batsman collapsed to the turf.

“You are trying to get a wicket first,” Archer told BBC Radio.

“To see him go down, everyone stopped and everyone’s heart skipped a beat.”

Australia, bidding for its first Ashes campaign triumph on English soil in 18 years, leads the five-match series 1-0 after a 251-run win at Edgbaston last week.

In that match, former captain Smith marked his first test since completing a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa with superb innings of 144 and 142.

After rain delayed yesterday’s start by over an hour, England resumed on 96-4 in its second innings and set Australia a target of 267 in 48 overs to win the test after England captain Joe Root declared his side’s second innings on 258-5.


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