England may have solved their Steve Smith problem, for the moment at least.
Simply have Jofra Archer ding Smith with the bowl and induce some concussion symptoms.
To be clear, we are not suggesting that Archer was instructed to target Smith, or that Archer came up with the idea on his own. Archer had days to figure out a strategy for dealing with the player who was almost singlehandedly remove England from the Ashes conversation.
Smith was struck on the back of the neck and was unable to participate in the second Test. He hopes to be back for the third Test at the aptly name Headingley venue when Ashes play resumes later this week.
The rapid turnaround between Tests presents an issue for Smith, but he described his incident as a “mild concussion.”
If he returns, he vows he will do so only if he is one hundred percent fit, as he will be faced with England’s top pace attack.
Smith will be assessed continuously over the days until the third Test.
“I’ve got to be able to train probably a couple of days out and face fast bowling to make sure my reaction time and all that kind of stuff is in place. There’s a few tests I’ll have to tick off and I guess time will tell,” Smith said.
A concussion substitution in international cricket is a first and seems only fitting that Smith be the one to record the record, dubious as it may seem.
An err-on-the-side-of-caution medical scan over the past weekend showed that Smith did not suffer any structural damage.
After the hit, Smith was initially cleared and was able to resume his innings, but he reported that he felt worse as time progressed.
Cricket players have an optional stem guard to protect the area at the back of the neck, but Smith and other players find those guards uncomfortable, not to mention that the guards do not necessarily offer any guarantee that a screaming bouncer will not transfer an impact right through the guards.