Steven Smith has been ruled out of the Headingley Test after failing to recover in time from the concussion he suffered at Lord’s.
With a turnaround time of three days between the two Tests, it was always going to be tough for Smith to be ready in time and Australia confirmed today that he is out.
That would mean Marnus Labuschagne, who became the first concussion sub in Test cricket in Australia’s second innings at Lord’s after Smith was struck in the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer in the first, will take his place in the XI.
Smith had initially passed a concussion test and returned to complete his innings in the hour after he was struck on the fourth afternoon, but woke up with a headache and some dizziness on the final day and mandatory subsequent testing revealed his condition to have deteriorated.
While the vice-captain Travis Head had expressed hope that Smith would be fit, and he joined the rest of the team on the bus from Leeds out to Headingley, he arrived with an expression that indicated he would primarily be at training as a spectator. After taking an initial look at the pitch for the third Test, Smith joined the squad’s start-up huddle, but then walked away for a lengthy one-on-one discussion with the coach Justin Langer in the centre of the ground.
He then moved closer to the Kirkstall Lane End of the ground for another chat, this time with the team doctor Richard Saw. All the while the rest of the squad went through warm-ups, then fielding practice and ultimately a net session, as Smith did no more than look on.
The former captain Mark Taylor, at the venue as a commentator, chatted with Smith, whom he has mentored at regular intervals over his career. Langer can be expected to lean on Taylor, Ricky Ponting and other members of the commentary cadre for advice and counsel over the remaining three Tests, after Steve Waugh’s stint as team mentor ended with the conclusion of the Lord’s Test.
Finally, as Smith and Taylor walked to the middle to observe and advise on some catching drills, the official word arrived. Smith was out of the Headingley Test, giving him two weeks to recover and prepare for the fourth match of the series at Old Trafford.