Return of the king: Langer plans Smith's comeback
Coach confident Australia can cover the loss of Steve Smith at Headingley as star batter eyes return in next week’s tour match
Sam Ferris in Leeds
21 August 2019, 10:08 AM AEST
Australia coach Justin Langer says Steve Smith will likely make his return to action in the three-day tour match in Derby next week having been ruled out of the third Test in Leeds.
Langer confirmed on Tuesday that Smith had not sufficiently recovered from the delayed concussion he suffered from the sickening Jofra Archer blow in the second Test at Lord’s.
"It was pretty simple really, when we followed the protocols, he was probably a couple of days off being fit to be selected," Langer said.
"There's been a lot of work go into this concussion substitute, the concussion policy, over many years.
"The very fact we've got one in international cricket goes to show how much has gone into it.
"At the end of the day it was really a no brainer. He felt a bit better yesterday, but he is not going to have time enough to tick off everything he needs to do to be ready to play.
"He obviously, like all the players, wants to play, he loves batting, but he understands as well that he's not 100 per cent yet and with only a couple of days between Test matches that's what makes it so difficult."
Smith said on Sunday, the day he became international cricket's first player substituted out of a match, that he needed to resume training, face fast bowling in the nets and pass routine concussion assessments to be passed fit for third Test.
But with only three days between the matches at Lord's and Leeds, Smith did not have enough time to fully recover from the frightening blow to the back of his neck.
The 30-year-old is now set to play against Derbyshire in the scheduled three-day tour match from August 29-31 between the third and fourth Tests.
Derbyshire have already felt the wrath of one Australian this northern summer, when Matt Wade blasted the fastest List A hundred by an Australian from just 45 balls for Australia A in June.
While it won't be as violent as Wade's demolition job, Smith could inflict just as much pain on the Derbyshire bowlers as he prepares for the fourth Test.
"It'd be great for (Smith) rather than just doing it in the nets or having throwdowns to play that practice game," Langer said. "It could work out really well.
"We know what he's like, so look out the Derbyshire bowlers.
"It'll save us 'wanging' (using modified ball throwers) the whole time, throwing them at him.
"I'm sure if he passes what he has to go through he'll be right to play that game."
Smith's absence leaves a huge chasm in Australia's batting order this week.
While Marnus Labuschagne was substituted in for Smith at Lord's as a like-for-like replacement and performed exceptionally well, in reality there is no way to replace a player who averages 63.24 with 25 Test hundreds.
But Langer says he is confident the rest of the batting order can shoulder Smith's output at Leeds as the world No.2 Test batsman continues to recover.
"You take your best players out, it always has an impact," Langer said.
"We have got to make sure that all the other guys, our senior players and our younger players all step up and fill what are almost unfillable shoes as he is almost the best player in the world.
"We’ve talked the whole time about squad mentality and being ready and when things come up like they always do in this game and guys are ready to step up and I’m confident they will do that."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval