Australia’s head coach Justin Langer has told his bowlers not to let their egos draw them into a battle of the bouncers at Headingley, after Steve Smith was ruled out of the third Ashes Test with concussion.
Smith has been undergoing constant medical assessments since showing delayed symptoms the day after being hit in the neck by a 92mph Jofra Archer delivery at Lord’s, and has been told his recovery plan will not allow him to be involved when the contest resumes on Thursday.
Archer’s pace and hostility on debut lit a fuse under the series, which the tourists lead 1-0, as the 24-year-old also struck Matthew Wade and Marnus Labuschagne on the helmet and routinely bowled well above 90mph.
Australia have been no shrinking violets in terms of using speed as a weapon in the past and, with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc all well capable of bowling quickly they could easily attempt to fight fire with fire.
Langer, though, wants a dispassionate display.
“We know what our plans are to beat England. What we’re not going to do is get caught up an an emotional battle of who’s going to bowl the quickest bouncers,” he said.
“We’re here to win the Test match, not to see how many helmets we can hit. We keep talking about it … you’ve got to play on skill, not emotion, and it’s hard for young players, even senior players.
“You can get caught up in the atmosphere, you can get caught up in the contest. But 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, otherwise we’ll keep sticking to the plan.”
Smith’s absence leaves a yawning hole in the Australian order, with the former captain scoring 144, 142 and 92 in the last three innings.
He had been keen to play despite concerns over his health, and turned up to training in a watching brief, but Langer revealed assessment of his condition meant that was never a realistic option.
“At the end of the day it was really a no brainer,” he said, turning to a somewhat awkward phrase given the circumstances.
“It was pretty simple when we followed the protocols, he was probably a couple of days off being fit to be selected. He is not going to have time enough to tick off everything he needs to do to be ready to play.
“It’s not like England losing James Anderson, he’s arguably their best bowler, and we are going to arguably lose our best batter for this Test match.
“It’s always a blow, no doubt about that. If you take your best players out it always has an impact so we have got to make sure that all the other guys, our senior players and our younger players, all step up and fill what are almost unfillable shoes as he is almost the best player in the world.”
Smith is now expected to return in a tour match against Derbyshire slotted between the third and fourth Tests.
“That would be great for him rather than just doing it in the nets or having throwdowns…it could work out really well,” said Langer.
“We know what he’s like, so look out Derbyshire bowlers!”
Brain injury association Headway welcomed Smith’s exclusion from the third Test and called for neck guards to become mandatory on cricket helmets.
Chief executive Peter McCabe said in a statement: “We welcome the news that Steve Smith will take no part in the next Ashes Test and wish him well.
“However, this incident should be a wake-up call for the game. Cricket has to seize the initiative and make permanent changes which will safeguard players from the possible dangers of concussion.
“The time has come for the International Cricket Council to introduce a more robust protocol which sets a specific period that players are required to rest following a concussion. Likewise, we feel that neck/stem guards should be mandatory.
“Finally, the decision if a player should continue following a suspected concussion should be made by an independent doctor away from the intense competitive pressures on the team.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
Former England batsmen Jonathan Trott and Mark Ramprakash are in the running for the role of India’s batting coach and have interviewed for the job before BCCI’s selection panel.
According to a report by ESPNcricinfo, the two Englishmen are being considered for the batting coach position along with former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera, Amol Muzumdar, Pravin Amre, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Vikram Rathour.
The BCCI recently retained Ravi Shastri as the head coach of India on a new two-year contract and the process to now complete his support staff is in full swing with candidates being interviewed by the selection panel from Monday to Thursday.
India’s previous supporting coaching staff comprising of Sanjay Bangar (assistant coach), Bharat Arun (bowling coach) and R Sridhar (fielding coach) have all been automatically entered into the recruitment process and are reportedly the preferred candidates for head coach Shastri.
The trio is currently with Shastri on India’s ongoing tour of the West Indies and were handed 45-day extensions to their contracts by the BCCI for the same after their original contracts expired with the completion of the 2019 World Cup.
Former South African ace Jonty Rhodes is said to be in the running for the fielding coach position while the likes of Venkatesh Prasad and Sunil Joshi have applied for the role of the bowling coach.
Like Shastri, the new supporting staff are likely to be handed two-year contracts as well which would run until the completion of the 2021 T20 World Cup. The selection panel will send its final recommendations for the three roles to the BCCI after completing the interview process this week before the board takes a final call on the appointments.
What would a world XI made up of players from 11 different cricket nations look like?
Now you don’t need to wonder. We’ve assembled an all-star team containing one player each from England, New Zealand, India, Australia, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal.
We’ve had to make some sacrifices to create the most balanced team – but there’s no doubt that all 11 are masters of their respective trades.
South Africa – Quinton de Kock (wk)
The baby-faced gloveman from South Africa makes the list ahead of the likes of MS Dhoni, Jos Buttler, and Alex Carey. De Kock’s consistent ventures with the bat and a firm pair of hands have drawn comparisons to the Aussie great Adam Gilchrist.
The 26-year-old holds the record for taking the fewest (20) number of games to reach five ODI centuries.
Pakistan – Babar Azam
De Kock is joined by the second player on the above-mentioned list. Babar Azam has proved to be one of the most dependable No3 batsmen in the world and has provided Pakistan solidity in the top-order.
The technically gifted batsman has been compared to India great Virat Kohli due to the pair’s similar playing style. Azam’s strokeplay is a joy to watch and the future appears bright for the 24-year-old.
New Zealand – Kane Williamson (c)
Between a defeat in the final of the U19 World Cup over a decade ago and a defeat in the final of the senior World Cup this year, Kane Williamson has blossomed into a world-class batsman, great captain, and a lovable cricketer.
The 30-year-old will go down as a modern-day great in the Kiwis’ cricketing books after playing a captain’s role in New Zealand’s silver medal campaign in England this summer.
Australia – Steve Smith
Arguably now the best Test batsman to have ever played the game apart from Don Bradman, Steve Smith’s story is filled with chapters of redeption. Initially selected as a spinner who could bat a bit, Smith faced instant criticism but answered the doubters with the willow.
A one-year ban following the ball-tampering incident against South Africa last year has not prevented him from toying with England in the Ashes, a Test series that has always been his favourite.
Bangladesh – Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan will retire as the best player in Bangladeshi cricketing history. A left-arm orthodox when he handles the ball and southpaw when he wields the bat, Shakib has been one of the most consistent performers of the modern era.
The Moyna-born all-rounder was among the top-three highest run-getters with 606 runs in the recently-concluded World Cup and claimed 11 wickets in the process.
Sri Lanka – Angelo Mathews
One of the most prominent figures of the island nation, Angelo Mathews is best known for his versatility across the batting order and ability to function as a utility bowler in the middle-overs.
He played a key role in Sri Lanka’s 2011 World Cup campaign in which they finished runners-up and was one of their most consistent players during the era of decline that followed.
West Indies – Andre Russell
In an era of hard-hitting West Indies all-rounders, Andre Russell stands out as probably the most devastating. The Caribbean star has impressed in all formats but has thrived in the shortest.
The fast bowler has rattled top-class batting line-ups and provided his team the breakthrough on several occasions. With the bat, he has the qualities of a top-notch finisher and is capable of sending the ball sailing over the ropes at will.
England – Jofra Archer
The lanky Caribbean-born England pacer has beaten the likes of Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root and Ben Stokes to claim the lone slot in our line-up.
Archer’s fiery pace tormented top batsman at the World Cup, breaking several stumps in the process, and his introduction to Tests at Lord’s saw him bounce Smith out of the game. The 24-year-old has already etched his name into English cricketing history, holding his nerve in the Super Over to help secure the country their first-ever World Cup.
Afghanistan – Rashid Khan
The face of modern spin bowling, Rashid Khan has made a name for himself at the tender age of 18. Now 20, the Afghanistan tyro and IPL star is best known for the variation he brings to his deliveries which makes them highly unpredictable.
The 20-year-old has claimed 75 wickets in 38 international T20 games at a spectacular average of 11.52. Rashid is arguably the most talented cricketer the minnow nation has produced so far and can only get better going forward.
India – Jasprit Bumrah
Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah has a firm claim over being the best death bowler in the world. The 25-year-old has performed consistently in the domestic circuit and internationally across all formats.
Inch-perfect yorkers, pace variation, and reverse swingers are some of the arrows in his quiver that makes him unplayable at the death. Bumrah was the best player in the Indian team that finished on top of the table in the 2019 World Cup.
Nepal – Sandeep Lamichhane
Sandeep Lamichhane has received praise from none other his idol Shane Warne, whom he bowls very similarly to. That should tell you how good he is. At 17, the Nepali became the first player from his nation to be bought at an IPL auction, for $31,000 by Delhi Daredevils.
He then helped drag Nepal into the World Cup Qualifier and though he could not take them all the way to this summer’s World Cup in England, the precocious leg-spinner – now 19 – has the world at his feet.