Steve Smith has been ruled out of the third Ashes Test at Headingley as he continues his recovery from the concussion he suffered at Lord’s.
Smith was felled by a blow to the neck from a Jofra Archer bouncer. He retired hurt, and, although he later returned to the crease to complete his innings on day four, was withdrawn from the match on the final morning to be replaced by Marnus Labuschagne. It was the first use of the new concussion substitute in international cricket, with Labuschagne going on to make a crucial contribution as Australia saved the Test with four wickets in hand.
While Smith himself had hoped to be available for Leeds, the tight turnaround between the matches meant time was always against him and on Tuesday Australia confirmed he would not be selected at Headingley on Thursday.
Labuschagne will, we assume, slot straight into the starting XI in Smith’s place as he did so admirably as replacement on Sunday. James Pattinson could also return to the team having been rested at Lord’s.
Mitchell Starc will also be considered for a spot in the XI at Headingley, and made an eye-catching appearance during Australia’s net session on Tuesday, clean bowling David Warner and striking Labuschagne on the grille.
Australia lead the series 1-0, but the manner of the draw at Lord’s has shifted the mood slightly England’s way, with the confirmation of Smith’s absence for the Leeds Test another nudge in the direction of the home side given his astonishing form thus far in which he has made scores of 144, 142 and 92 in his three innings.
England have named an unchanged 12-man squad for the third Test with James Anderson set to play for Lancashire’s second XI as he steps up his own fitness fight having limped out with a calf injury on the first morning of the series.
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