Australia’s Steve Smith was ruled out of the last day of the second Ashes Test with concussion against England at Lord’s, Cricket Australia announced on Sunday.
Smith was hit on the neck 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.
“Steve has been closely monitored by medical staff overnight and this morning reported that after sleeping well, he woke with ‘a bit of a headache and a feeling of grogginess’,” said an Australia team spokesman.
The series is the first being played under the ICC’s new concussion substitute regulations, part of the inaugural World Test Championship.
Marnus Labuschagne, on the field as 12th man when play resumed Sunday, became the first concussion substitute in Test history after Australia’s request was approved by match referee Ranjan Madugalle. He top-scored in the second innings with 59 off 100 balls, forging an 85-run stand with Travis Head.
There are doubts whether star batsman Smith will feature in the third Test at Headingley starting on Thursday, with the spokesman saying “the short turnaround is not in his favour”.
However, Smith said he would ‘love’ to help out his team, given he passed any requisite tests.
“It’s obviously a quick turnaround between Test matches. I’m going to be assessed over the next five or six days, each day a couple times a day to see how I’m feeling and progressing and I’m hopeful I will be available for that Test match, but it’s certainly 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,” Smith said.
The spokesman added: “Steve reported that his left arm which was also struck [by Archer] during his innings yesterday [Saturday] was ‘much better’” and that as part of further testing on Sunday, 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“On that basis Steve has been withdrawn from the match by team doctor Richard Saw.”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 and he will undergo a precautionary scan on Sunday.”
Significantly, Smith was wearing a helmet without the additional stem guard neck protection introduced following the death of Phillip Hughes.
“He (Smith) just doesn’t feel right (wearing a stem guard),” Australia coach Justin Langer said on Saturday. “I know they came in after the tragedy of Hughesy. He might rethink it now after what happened today.
“At the moment, the players have a choice and I wouldn’t be surprised if they become mandatory in the future.”
‘Everyone’s heart skipped a beat’
Archer was criticised on social media for a lack of concern on the field for Smith’s well-being but in an interview with BBC Radio before Sunday’s final day, he insisted: “That is never the plan (to hit a batsman). You are trying to get a wicket. To see him go down, everyone stopped and everyone’s heart skipped a beat,” he added.
“After he got up he was moving around and you breathe a sigh of relief. No-one wants to see anyone getting carried off on a stretcher. It was a good challenge, a really good spell.
“You don’t ever want to see anyone carried off on a stretcher, or miss a day, or a game, especially with what happened a few years ago,” said Archer.
‘Fans who booed are not cricket fans’
Australia’s cricket union Sunday slammed fans at Lord’s for booing Steve Smith after he was felled, saying the sport deserves better.
“Cricket deserves much better than that. And Lord’s, the home of cricket, deserves much better than that also,” president Greg Dyer and chief executive Alistair Nicholson said in a joint statement. “What we witnessed was bravery from an outstanding young man. It should be commended not vilified.
“Over the English summer, generally the crowds have been terrific and really added to the contest. But when someone is hurt, yet the boos continue, it’s time to call ‘enough’.”
“It has really disappointed me. I do not care what people say. Yes, they can say he is a cheat [for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in 2018] and that’s why we are booing him but that is absolute rubbish to me. Yes, he has done what he has done,” former Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson said in a video posted by ESPNCricinfo.
“You can boo him when he comes out to bat at the start of innings, but seeing him getting booed when he came back out after being struck by Archer, that was disappointing. The fans that booed Smith are not cricket fans according to me.”