(CNN) — The ball crunched from the Australian cricketer’s forearm. Shortly afterwards, a second windmill into Steve Smith’s throat just below his left ear — poleaxing the Aussie batsman.
Unflappable, unwavering and unflustered — as he was during this Ashes series — Smith had looked on course for tis third straight century on Saturday earlier, beneath a murky, gray skies, England fast bowler Jofra Archer started to unsettle the 30-year-old Australian.
Throughout a fiery spell which comprised a delivery clocked at 96mph, Archer and Smith went toe-to-toe enjoy a couple of heavyweight boxers in a competition that had audiences gripped.
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A race to be healthy
Scans later showed no fracture on to Smith’s arm but the 92mph bouncer which cannoned into the Australian’s neck proven to have had a much more lasting effect.
Back in the changing room, Smith was originally put through routine evaluations by Australian staff physician Richard Saw, along with the batsman returned into the game Saturday before eventually being dismissed for 92.
However, after the close of play on Saturday, Smith complained of headaches and was then ruled from the rest of the game on Sunday — even Marnus Labuschagne getting the first concussion substitute in a Test.
The third Test starts on Thursday at Leeds, however, the 30-year-old Australian will not be racing his return.
“It is obviously a fast turnaround between Test matches,” Smith said on Sunday.
“I’m likely to be assessed over the following five or five days, each day a few occasions, to see how I am feeling and how I am progressing.
“I’m hopeful I will be available for that Exam game, but it is definitely up to the health staff and we’ll have conversations.
“It is certainly an area of concern, concussion, and I need to be 100% match. I’ve got to be able to train a few days outside and after that face fast bowling to make sure my reaction time is set up.”
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A dark reminder
The sight of an Australian batsmen lying prone on the ground was hit by a baseball ball brought back several troubling remarks for Australian cricket.
In 2014, Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died aged 25, two days after being struck in the head with a ball when batting in a domestic match.
After Hughes’ dreadful departure, changes were made to further protect batsmen, together with stem guards designed and made optional for players to wear on their helmets.
After initially not feeling comfortable playing the guards on his helmet,” Smith believes he might have to rethink his stance on them after this recent episode.
“I think I, along with a few other players in the group, find it a little bit different, embarrassing compared to what we’re utilized to,” he explained.
“I believe a little bit claustrophobic as it’s on. I feel as though I’m enclosed and not too comfortable.
“It’s definitely something I want to probably take a look at and perhaps try in the nets and see whether I could get a way to get comfortable with it.”
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The Right Choice
Research completed by Cricket Australia shows that postponed concussion — in which symptoms don’t develop until a few hours after the first blow — happen in approximately 30% of cases.
In the second Test at Lord’s, three players had been struck on the head and Smith was the only player to suffer a concussion.
And given only around 20 percent of head impacts in cricket lead to a concussion, Alex Kountouris, Cricket Australia’s director of sports medicine, considers removing a participant from the game each time they were struck at the head would be unnecessary.
“The truth is simply about one in five or six head influences wind up in concussion,” Kountouris said in a press conference in Australia on Monday.
“When we pulled out every participant who had a direct impact, we would be pulling out 80 percent of players that don’t possess a concussion and taking them out of this match. So that would be an overreaction.
“If you look at that game, there were three other thoughts impacts and just Steve had a concussion.
“He didn’t have a concussion at the time (he had been struck ) so he had been allowed to perform. When we took him out of the game, we would have been leaving him from the game for no reason other than that which we found on the field.”
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Kountouris also stated he was”100%” fulfilled by Dr. Saw’s therapy of Smith.
“At the conclusion of the afternoon, our doctor pulled him out of day five of this Test match, that was a fairly critical area of the game,” he said.
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“Our physician is an expert in his area, he is trained to pick up even the little signs of concussion.
“(He) has been brilliant. He did was in accordance with this routine, he had been quite comprehensive, and we know he is very thorough. We are 100% satisfied with what happened around.”
Australian direct the series 1-0.
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