Steve Smith has been withdrawn from the Lord's Ashes Test against England following a blow to the side of his neck by a 93 mph bouncer from Jofra Archer on day 4 of the second Test. According to an official, Smith was closely monitored by medical staff overnight and after sleeping well, he woke this morning with “a bit of a headache and a feeling of grogginess.” As part of the Cricket Australia concussion protocol, repeat concussion testing of Smith was also performed and results showed some deterioration from his testing which is consistent with the emergence of the symptoms he was reporting. On that basis ,Steve has been withdrawn from the match by team doctor Richard Saw and the Australia team.
Smith's fitness will be assessed on an ongoing basis. He will undergo a precautionary scan on his neck on Sunday. However, his participation for the third Test which will begin on August 22 at Headingley, is in doubt considering the short turnaround time. Following Smith's withdrawal, Marnus Labuschagne has created history by becoming the first concussion substitute in the history of Test cricket.
The concept of the concussion substitute was started after the death of Phillip Hughes due to being struck on the side of the neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott in 2014. ESPNCricinfo had reported that the International Cricket Council was thinking of modifying the playing conditions in order to incorporate concussion substitutes for the Ashes Test. Cricket Australia had introduced concussion substitutes in the Women's Big Bash League and the Big Bash League but had to wait for ICC approval to introduce it in the Sheffield Shield tournament.
Smith battled the conditions brilliantly to his seventh consecutive fifty-plus score against England in the Ashes 2019. However, he encountered a fierce spell of bowling from Archer who regularly bowled in excess of 90 mph, including one delivery which was clocked at 96.1 mph. On 75, Smith suffered a blow to the side of his neck and after some concussion tests, he retired hurt and was escorted off the field. However, he resumed and smashed a couple of centuries off Chris Woakes before being trapped LBW for 92.
Speaking after the end of the match, Australia coach Justin Langer said the team did not take an undue risk in sending Smith out to bat but revealed that Smith insisted on going back to bat after he retired following the blow on the back of his back, protesting that he needed to be given the chance to make a century at the home of cricket. "He had the concussion testing and passed all that and that's why he came back out to bat. These are like my sons alright, so you're never going to put them in harm's way, even though you're always in harm's way with Test cricket. What else do you do? The medicos cleared him, he wanted to get out there. He was saying 'mate, I've got to get out there, I can't get on the honour board unless I'm out batting'," Langer said.