Steve Smith itching to play in third Ashes Test despite the short turnaround

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Steve Smith is in no mood to sit out the third Ashes Test.

Steve Smith accepts his withdrawal from the second Ashes Test with delayed onset concussion was the right decision but has already declared his intention to be back on the field at Headingley on Thursday.

Smith was felled on the fourth afternoon when a 92mph Jofra Archer bouncer struck him in the neck, forcing the Australian to retire hurt after lengthy treatment only to complete his innings little more than 40 minutes later.

At that stage he had passed all the on and off-field testing protocols but he gave an unsteady performance after returning to the crease and he woke up on Sunday morning reporting a headache and feelings of grogginess.

Follow-up tests showed his results had deteriorated and Cricket Australia became the first side to initiate the concussion substitute rules that were introduced by the International Cricket Council just this month, with Marnus Labuschagne the first such replacement.

Smith had argued against coming off in the immediate aftermath of the blow and was eager to return as soon as possible but had no complaints about being pulled from the match once his condition became clear.

“I woke up feeling a little bit groggy and with a headache again, I had some tests done and upon further assessment it was deemed to be a mild concussion unfortunately,” he told CA.

“The results changed slightly, they declined a little bit. With the tests I’ve done and how I’ve woken up, it’s the right decision.

“I’d love to be out there trying to keep performing and trying to help Australia to win another Test match but the right decision has been made and I’ll be monitored very closely for the next few days.”

It is just five years since Smith’s friend and team-mate Phil Hughes died after being hit by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match and, although CA has undoubtedly led the way on head injuries and concussion substitutes, questions will be asked over whether or not Smith should have been allowed to bat again.

Having passed both computerised and non-computerised assessments, Australia doctor Richard Saw saw no reason to step in but it is now apparent that Smith was in a vulnerable position and would have been prone to further damage had he been hit again.

That made it all the more surprising to hear he is intending to prove his fitness for the third Test in Leeds, which begins just four days after his diagnosis.

“It’s obviously a quick turnaround between Test matches and I’m going to be assessed over the next five or six days, each day probably a couple of times., to see how I’m feeling and progressing,” he said.

“Hopefully I will be available for that Test match. It’s up to the medical staff and we’ll have conversations…it’s certainly an area of concern, concussion, and I want to be 100 per cent fit.

“I have to be able to train probably a couple of days out and then face fast bowling to make sure my reaction time and all that kind of stuff is in place – there are a few tests I have to tick off and time will tell.”

Smith’s optimism does not appear to be shared by the governing body, with a statement from CA casting doubt on his appearance.

“In terms of Steve’s availability for the third Test, this will be considered over the coming days but the short turnaround to the next Test is not in his favour. Steve’s fitness will be assessed on an ongoing basis,” it read.

CA guidelines rule out any return to physical activity for 24 hours, after which it must be a graduated process taken under constant review.

The ICC’s most recent review on the subject recommends a week away from action and the England and Wales Cricket Board does not allow for a return to full training before at least six days have passed.

More encouragingly, Smith appears ready to try wearing a protective stem guard again – the extra layer of neck protection introduced following the Hughes tragedy but shunned by some players as being uncomfortable.

“That is certainly something I need to have a look at and perhaps try in the nets and see if I can find a way to get comfortable with it,” said Smith.

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Ashes 2019: Jofra Archer's hostile Test debut changes complexion of the series

Ashish Peter 18/08/2019
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Jofra Archer was in menacing mood on the final day at Lord's.

Jofra Archer’s sensational duel with Steve Smith on Day Four of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s had the entire cricket world stand up to take notice and the West Indies born pacer was at it again on the final day in one of the most hostile spells of red-ball bowling.

The right-arm fast bowler’s nasty bouncer to Smith meant that the Australia batsman did not take the field on Sunday due to a concussion and Archer did an encore by almost knocking out Marnus Labuschagne in similar style.

His ferocious display of short-pitched bowling on day five at Lord’s was the highlight of the day with the England pacer showing he is here to stay in the Test format.

Australia held on for the draw in the end but Archer’s remarkable debut will be talked about for some time. Here, we take a closer look at his performance in Australia’s second innings.

ANALYSIS

Overs: 15

Wickets: 3

Runs conceded: 32

Maidens: 2

Economy-rate: 2.13

30-SECOND REPORT

Archer shared the new-ball responsibilities with Stuart Broad and wasted no time in making an instant impact for the hosts. The England pacer ended David Warner’s misery at the crease by finding a sharp edge off the left-hander’s bat before adding a second wicket to his name with the very next over by having Usman Khawaja caught behind by Jonny Bairstow.

The fast bowler returned in the final hour as England made a desperate push for victory and added the scalp of Australia skipper Tim Paine after Joe Denly pulled off a blinder of a catch.

GOT RIGHT

While he had taken his time to get going in the first innings of his debut Test, Archer looked completely at home in the format by the time he was bowling on Sunday.

The 24-year-old’s natural movement away from the left-handers was what helped him knock off Warner and Khawaja in quick succession in what was a terrific first spell by Archer.

Archer made excellent use of the Lord’s slope to move the ball both ways. He bowled against the slope in his first spell and got the ball to move away from left-handers while generating the opposite movement while bowling with the slope in his second spell.

His pace constantly hovered around the 145-150kmph mark but it was the unrelenting intensity that impressed most about his bowling on Sunday. Joe Root leaned heavily on Archer during the first 20 overs of Australia’s innings and the pacer went full throttle throughout that period with barely any break in his spells.

His second spell was a masterpiece on its own without fetching any wickets and he constantly made Marnus Labuschagne hop and jump with some mean bouncers directed towards the body.

GOT WRONG

Archer’s short of a length bowling at express pace was menacing throughout for the Aussie batsmen but the pacer perhaps missed a trick by not going full more often. While he served up plenty of chin music for the visitors, Archer could have used his trademark yorker as a surprise element.

VERDICT – 9/10

Archer’s introduction couldn’t have been any more impressive with the Barbados-born pacer changing the complexion of the series. His engrossing battle on Day Four with Smith will go down as one of the best ever and the manner in which he tested arguably the best batsman in the world will make plenty of Aussie batsmen worried for the remainder of the series.

It is hard to believe that Archer is a red-ball rookie but his electric debut performance will make England believe that not only can they come back to level the series, but that they can even harbor ambitions of regaining the urn in the remaining three Tests.

The cricket world might just have to start getting used to the sight of Archer knock batsmen down to the ground with his brutal style of bowling and he looks destined to have a top Test career for England.

Justin Langer had expressed his reservations about Archer’s ability to make the red-ball step up but the England pacer has not only made the Aussie coach eat his words, he will also be giving him plenty of sleepless nights heading up to the Leeds Test.

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Ashes 2019: Gutsy Marnus Labuschagne weathers Jofra Archer storm and other talking points from Lord's draw

Ashish Peter 18/08/2019
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Labuschagne held fort for 100 deliveries for Australia.

An extraordinary fourth day of cricket in the second Ashes Test between England and Australia at Lord’s was followed up by an equally gripping Day Five as the visitors held on for hard-fought draw.

The hosts gave themselves every chance of levelling the series with a brilliant batting display led by Ben Stokes on the final day but they were unable to pick up 10 Australian wickets in 48 overs despite the excellence of Jofra Archer and Jack Leach.

In the end, Australia’s 1-0 lead in the five-match series was preserved as the visitors battled their way to 154-6 after being set a daunting fourth innings target of 267 at Lord’s.

While Tim Paine and his men will be glad to walk away with a draw in the end, England’s strong showing on the back of Archer’s Test introduction means that the series is alive and kicking.

Here, we look at the key takeaways from an engrossing day of Test cricket at Lord’s.

Australia dealt with Smith blow

While the visitors will feel relieved to come away from the Lord’s Test with their 1-0 lead still intact, it has come at a huge cost. History was made on Sunday with Marnus Labuschange becoming the first official substitute player in Test cricket due to a concussion to Steve Smith.

Smith copped a sickening blow to his neck from Jofra Archer after what was a gripping passage of play on Saturday and the right-handed batsman had to be withdrawn from proceedings for the final day after displaying delayed signs of concussion.

With just a three-day turnaround time between the Lord’s and Headingley clashes, Smith is now a major doubt for the third Test and his potential absence will come as a big blow for the Aussies.

Smith has so far scored over 37 per cent of Australia’s total runs in the series and has proved to be the difference between the otherwise evenly matched sides. While the former Australia skipper has expressed his eagerness to participate in the Headingley Test, concussion injuries are always tricky to navigate and the Aussie team management will want to take no chances with their star batsman.

Stokes’ ton puts England in the driving seat

England were still not out of the woods when they resumed their innings on the final day at Lord’s with the potential of a dramatic batting collapse ever present.

However, there would be no such failure this time from the hosts with a determined Ben Stokes slamming only his second Ashes ton and the first against Australia since his 120 in the second innings of the 2013 Perth Test.

Having been the hero for England at Lord’s just over a month ago in the World Cup final, Stokes was once again in the mood at the home of cricket with his best showing in the series so far.

The star all-rounder had to survive a testing period in the morning session but he accelerated as his innings wore on. Once England’s lead breached the 200-run mark, the southpaw came into his own with some big hits across the park.

Stokes’ rapid knock gave the hosts a glimmer of hope.

A second Ashes ton for Stokes.

A second Ashes ton for Stokes.

Gutsy Labuschagne roughs it out

With 48 overs to play, England were smelling blood when Jofra Archer gave them an electric start. The pacer removed both David Warner and Usman Khawaja in a fiery first spell to put Australia on the back-foot before Leach caught Cameron Bancroft plumb in front to help the hosts make further inroads.

With Smith having been ruled out earlier, the visitors were staring down the barrel at Lord’s but his replacement turned out to be an equally frustrating opponent for England.

Labuschagne was greeted by a viscous Archer bouncer that looked like a carbon copy of the blow taken by Smith on the fourth day but the first official substitute in Test cricket was quick to get back on his feet. The right-hander was given no breathing room at the crease with Archer keeping up the hostilities but he remained resolute in the face of pressure with a solid technique.

Labuschagne’s composed display at the crease calmed the nerves for the Aussies and eventually earned them a hard-fought draw to keep their series lead intact. The balls weathered by him on the final day was reminiscent of Smith’s gritty display in the first innings and should help him retain a place for the Headingley clash even if Smith recovers in time.

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