Before Ben Stokes’ heroics, led England to a nail-biting last wicket win in the third Ashes Test, Jofra Archer–Steve Smith‘s on-field battle was the one which kept the Ashes in the headline. Jofra Archer, the England paceman, who is known for his accurate length bowling and bouncer, ruled Steve Smith out of the third Test, as well as the second innings of the second Test.
His deadly bouncer hit Steve Smith’s exposed area of the neck and soon after he fell down on the ground when he was playing at 80. However, he returned to bat after sometimes and scored 92 before getting dismissed by Chris Woakes. His delayed headaches and dizziness left him out of the third Test.
However, getting injured on the field is not new. But for Phillip Hughes and the cricketing world, it became pretty much serious. Hughes also took a blow to the neck in the 2014 Sheffield Shield match at the SCG that cost him his life. As a result, Cricket Australia called for improvements to the helmet. However, the new designs have additional guards fitted to the rear of the helmet. Smith, though opted against using that in his helmet and following the hit by the bouncer, the flashback of Hughes haunted him.
“I had a few things running through my head, particularly where I got hit, just a bit of past came up, if you know what I mean, from a few years ago,” shared Steve Smith while speaking with media after the third Test. “That was probably the first thing I thought about. Then I was like, ‘I’m okay here,’ and I was alright. I was a little bit sad but I was alright mentally for the rest of that afternoon.”
Smith later found to have delayed concussion which he described as similar to having taken too much of alcohol.
“It wasn’t until later that evening that it hit me,” said Smith. “When the doc asked me what did it feel like I said it felt like I had six beers last night and felt a little but under the weather, without the six beers unfortunately. That was the sort of feeling I got, that groggy feeling and that stuck around for a couple of days. Not a nice place to be in but these things happen and unfortunately missed what was a pretty amazing Test match,” expressed Smith.
After going through a couple of tests, from a brisk walk and gradually working up to facing Mitchell Marsh and Michael Neser in the nets, he is all set to play in Australia’s tour match in Derby. The tour match is scheduled to start from Thursday. However, it is expected that he will return to the squad for the fourth Ashes Test as well.
Smith also shared the reason behind not using the StemGuard on his helmet as he feels discomfort.
“I’ve tried them before, and I tried then the other day when I was batting and I reckon my heart rate went up about 30 or 40 straight away,” explained Smith. “I just feel claustrophobic. I compare it to being stuck in an MRI scan machine.”
“It was different, but I think at some point they’re probably going to become mandatory so I’m going to have to get used to them,” said Smith. “And I’m sure the more I wear them, the more I practice with them, my heart rate will come down and everything will be okay.”
However, the former Australia captain thinks the situation wouldn’t have changed if the StemGuard was there.
“Had I been wearing a stem guard in the game, I’m not sure that would have made a difference, the way my head sort of went back and where it hit me. Of course, you always want to have as much protection as possible and for me now it’s about trying it and trying to get used to it in the nets,” added Steve Smith.
But, one thing Smith has shared that he won’t change the way he faces Jofra Archer.
“I’m not really going to change anything. There’s been a bit of talk that he’s got the wood over me, but he hasn’t actually got me out. He hit me on the head on a wicket that was a bit up and down at Lord’s. He actually didn’t get me out so all the other bowlers have had more success against me I daresay. I’ve faced them a bit more, but they’ve all got me out a lot more. I’m pretty comfortable with that,” Smith concluded.