England are ready to take on Australia in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, starting from Thursday. As the former Australia captain, Steve Smith is not a part of the test, England captain Joe Root urged his teammates to grab the opportunity of Smith’s absence and try to level the five-match series at 1-1. However, Root shared his concern about Smith’s health as well.
“There was a lot of concern in our dressing room for his health but it’s great to see he’s up and about and is fine,” commented Joe Root.
Steve Smith got hurt on the uncovered area of his neck by a bouncer of Jofra Archer during the second Test at Lord’s and fell down. Because of that he was retired hurt at 80 but came back after some time. He scored 92 before getting dismissed by Chris Woakes.
Unfortunately, he failed the second concussion test and has been ruled out since the second innings of the second Test as well as from the third Test. Marnus Labuschagne replaced him in the second innings, became the first-ever concussion replacement and scored a fifty as well after being hit on the grille of his helmet by Jofra Archer.
Australia certainly feel Steve Smith’s absence as he was the man behind their 251-run victory in the first Ashes Test where he scored 144 and 142 in the two innings respectively in his return in the Test cricket after completing one-year ban due to the ball-tampering scandal.
“They will be huge shoes to fill,” Joe Root said on the absence of Steve Smith.
On the other hand, England opener Jason Roy also suffered a suspected concussion while batting in the nets. Even their key pacer James Anderson has also been ruled out due to a calf injury. Although Roy is expected to be fit before the game, Ollie Pope has been summoned as the back-up.
However, Jason Roy failed to show his capability in the Test so far but the captain has backed him.
“I feel Jason can have a real big impact at the start of an innings,” commented Root.
“It’s very unfortunate on their part but we had the challenge of Jimmy going down four overs into a Test match and had to manage that without a replacement. You get these swings within a big series like this every now and again and when you get your opportunity you’ve got to jump on it,” said Root.
Jofra Archer had replaced Anderson in the second Test and impressed everyone with his deadly pace and bouncer and took a five-wicket haul on a Test debut.
“He’s dealing with it pretty well, I think,” added Root. “He’s just a very relaxed character, unfazed by anything. He’s one of those guys who seems to be born for these occasions.”