Smith blow may see neck guards become compulsory: Langer
Australian cricket team coach Justin Langer said there may come a time when star batsman Steve Smith will have to wear a neck guard on his helmet. Smith was felled by a bouncer in the second Ashes Test against England at Lord's on Saturday. The Australian coach also explained the decision to allow Smith to resume batting. Here are the details.
Smith suffers twin blows from Archer
Smith suffered the first injury when a rising ball from Jofra Archer struck his forearm. He was writhing in pain and had to bandage his arm. Despite batting on, a few moments later, Archer's short ball felled Smith. The right-handed batsman was lying flat on his back before getting up to applause from the crowd. He couldn't continue though and retired hurt.
Smith was struck on an unprotected part of his neck
Archer's deliver that clocked 92.4 mph hit Smith on an unprotected part of his neck. Smith returned back to the field after Peter Siddle was dismissed for nine. The supporters were on their feet applauding the batsman as he entered the field. He was lbw to Chris Woakes for 92. Smith's helmet didn't have the additional stem guard neck protection.
Smith's injury reminds Langer of Hughes
The stem guard neck protection was introduced following the death of former Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes. Hughes was hit by a bouncer in a 2014 domestic Sheffield Shield match in Sydney. Langer said that Smith's injury reminded him of the tragic death of Hughes. "There's obviously some rough memories of a blow like that, there's no fun in it," Langer said.
Wearing stem guard could become mandatory: Langer
Langer said that Smith might rethink his decision. "He (Smith) just doesn't feel right (wearing a stem guard. I know they came in after the tragedy of Hughesy. He might rethink it now after seeing what happened today, but you'd have to ask him that. At the moment, the players have a choice and I wouldn't be surprised if they become mandatory," said Langer.
Langer defends his decision to send Smith back
"He passed all of the tests. He wouldn't have gone out there unless we thought he was okay. We asked him over and over again. I asked him behind closed doors two or three and times and in front of the group. What else do you do? The medics cleared him, he wanted to get out there," clarified Langer.
Smith has been scoring runs at will
Smith has already amassed 378 runs so far in three innings in Ashes 2019. This was the seventh successive score of fifty-plus for Smith against England in Tests. His scores in the last seven innings read 239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142 and 92. He also went past 6,500 runs in Test cricket (6,577). The star cricketer also amassed his 25th career Test fifty.