Ashes 2019: Steve Smith ruled out of Leeds Test
Steve Smith walks off the field after being hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer. (AFP Image)

Australia will be without Steve Smith for the third Ashes Test against England starting Thursday after the batsman failed to overcome the effects of concussion sustained at Lord’s. Australia coach Justin Langer confirmed the news as Smith sat out of Australia’s practice session on Tuesday.


Smith was hit on the neck by a fiery Jofra Archer delivery on the fourth day of the second Test. He had to retire hurt but came back later after passing a series of concussion test. However, the following day, Smith woke up groggy and with a headache, following which the former captain could not take part on Day 5 and the decision to substitute him with Marnus Labuschagne was taken.

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It was pretty simple really, when we followed the protocols, he was probably a couple of days off being fit to be selected,” Langer said. “There’s been a lot of work go into this concussion substitute, the concussion policy, over many years.

“The very fact we’ve got one in international cricket goes to show how much has gone into it. At the end of the day it was really a no-brainer, he felt a bit better yesterday but he is not going to have time enough to tick off everything he needs to do to be ready to play. Not unlike England losing James Anderson, he’s arguably their best bowler, we are going to arguably lose our best batter for this Test match, so it’s always a blow, no doubt about that.

“You take your best players out it always has an impact, 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. We’ve talked the whole time about squad mentality and being ready and when things come up like they always do in this game and guys are ready to step up and I’m confident they will do that. He obviously, like all the players, wants to play, he loves batting but he understands as well that he’s not 100% yet and with only a couple of days between Test matches, that’s what makes it so difficult.”

Although no official word is out yet, the chances of Smith taking the field at Headingley look highly unlikely. With just one day remaining for the start of the third Test, Smith needs to go through rigorous training and batting in the nets in order to be fully prepared. At the end of the Australian hurdle, a dejected-looking Smith got a pat on his shoulder from Pat Cummins which hints at the former captain’s omission from the third Test of the 2019 Ashes series.

“The process is there for a reason and I am 100% confident that the decision made the other day was the right one,” Langer said. “He passed all the testing and he had a smile on his face, he had colour in his face, he was desperate to go out and bat and as I said the other day, I asked him over and over and over.

“We have a duty of care to our players not just as cricketers but as people. He was really keen and confident he was okay and the tests all showed that. They talk about this delayed concussion. I probably have a whole different insight having been in his shoes a couple of times before. It can hit you afterwards and it did with him and that’s why he is out of this Test match.”

Smith’s absence is great news for England – trailing 0-1 – as he has been their chief tormentor with scores of 142 and 144 at Edgbaston and 92 at Lord’s. His prolific run in the series has seen him rise to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings, closing the gap on Virat Kohli.

As per Cricket Australia’s concussion protocols, the final say regarding Smith’s involvement will be taken by Dr. Richard Saw. Langer will speak more about it later in the day.