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Ashes

Australia PM slams England fans, CA medic defends Smith’s return to crease

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised England fans for booing Steve Smith after he was struck by a Jofra Archer bouncer on day four of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.

The No.4 batsman retired hurt after being struck on the neck by a 92mph delivery from the impressive debutant, but returned to complete his innings after the fall of the next wicket.

The former Test captain was later ruled out of the remainder of the Test with onset concussion.

While Smith gained many plaudits throughout the Test, there were jeers from some quarters – a common sight since his return from a 12-month ban for his role in the ball-tampering affair in 2018.

The booing throughout the English summer hasn't seem quite affected Smith's confidence

Booing throughout the English summer doesn’t appear to have affected Smith

“A draw for the second Test but it was a total Ashes foul for the crowd at Lord’s to boo Steve Smith,” Morrison wrote on Facebook. “His performance on the pitch during his return to Test-match cricket in the UK demands nothing other than respect.

“He’s a champion and has handled the events of the past year with a real humility. I’m extremely proud of Steve Smith, and it’s not just because he comes from the Shire,” a nod to the region of Sydney where both Smith and Morrison grew up.

“The crowd could learn a thing or two from Smith and I look forward to him answering his hecklers with bat and ball in hand to bring home the Ashes,” the Prime Minister concluded.

Elsewhere, Cricket Australia’s sports medicine manager, Alex Kountouris, said the medical team were right to allow Smith to return to the field, and that it’s important not to overreact to players being struck on the head.

Smith passed concussion testing protocols but was subsequently ruled out after he reported a headache and grogginess the next morning. He was then replaced by Marnus Labuschagne – the first use of a concussion substitute in international cricket.

Kountouris told reporters that protocols had been properly followed, and that “about 30 per cent of concussions are delayed”.

“We’ve got a protocol in place. Part of that process was to make a determination at the end and he clearly didn’t have a concussion, so we allowed him to go back on the field. In this case, overnight or the next morning he developed some symptoms and when we did the testing he didn’t actually pass his concussion test.”

“The reality is at the time he didn’t have a concussion. If we pulled every player out who had a head impact we’d be pulling out 80 per cent of players who don’t have concussion, so that would be an overreaction.

“It’s pretty clear for us. We’ve got a doctor there. He is an expert in this field and trained to pick up even the minor signs of concussion. He was very confident that Steve was fine. He didn’t have concussion at the time, so he was allowed to play.

Cricket Australia said a “precautionary scan” on Smith’s neck on Sunday cleared him of any structural damage, and he “will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis”.

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