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Cricket urged to update concussion protocols as Smith sits out

 

Welfare worry: Steve Smith
Welfare worry: Steve Smith

By Rory Dollard

Steve Smith has been ruled out of the third Ashes Test at Headingley following his concussion diagnosis.

The Australian batsman was withdrawn on day five of the second Test after showing delayed symptoms from the 92mph Jofra Archer bouncer that struck him in the neck the previous afternoon.

The 30-year-old, who has scored 144, 142 and 92 in his three innings to date, was present at Australia's training session in Leeds yesterday but did not take any active part in proceedings.

Smith retired hurt after being floored by the Archer delivery but returned to complete his innings after less than an hour off the field. He gave an unsteady performance, uncharacteristically missing a straight ball to fall lbw then calling for a review at the same time as walking to the pavilion.

At the time he had passed all necessary concussion testing, but his condition deteriorated overnight and Marnus Labuschagne duly became Test cricket's first concussion substitute.

Smith declared his intention to play at Headingley provided he was passed fit by medics but, given most guidelines on return-to-play protocols, that always seemed unlikely.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has already made it clear that Archer would be unleashing more fiery bowling at Headingley, making a potentially dangerous environment for a player diagnosed with concussion just four days before the start of the game.

"It's part of the game and a big part of Jofra's game, being aggressive, not letting batsmen settle," said Stokes.

"When someone takes a nasty blow, no bowler is going to say 'I'm not going to bowl that again because I don't want to hit them again'."

Headway, the brain injury charity, issued a statement in reaction to Smith continuing his innings on Saturday, calling for cricket to exert caution whenever there were concerns over a batsman's health.

"You cannot take any risks with concussion, which is why we have always said that all sports have to take an 'if in doubt, sit it out' approach," it said.

"If there is even a hint of concussion when someone is bowling at 90 mph, there is absolutely no way a player should be on the pitch.

"Cricket may need to consider this, while making it abundantly clear that players should have absolutely no say in the decision."

As the Australia squad digested the news about Smith, nets continued on the pitch and there was no let up for the batsmen, with Mitchell Starc sending down a series of quick bouncers at Labuschagne, who was hit in the helmet by one and was assessed by the team doctor before carrying on.

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