Ashes 2019: Steve Smith may be forced to wear neck guard on his helmet after being struck by Jofra Archer bouncer, says Australia coach Justin Langer

Australia coach Justin Langer said there may come a time when Steve Smith has to wear a neck guard on his helmet after being felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer.

Agence France-Presse, Aug 18, 2019 11:29:40 IST

London: Australia coach Justin Langer said there may come a time when Steve Smith has to wear a neck guard on his helmet whether he likes it or not after the star batsman was felled by a bouncer in the second Ashes Test against England at Lord's on Saturday.

Smith had made 80 on the fourth day when he was struck by a short ball from fast bowler Jofra Archer, timed at 92.4 mph (148.7 kph), on an unprotected part of his neck.

Ashes 2019: Steve Smith may be forced to wear neck guard on his helmet after being struck by Jofra Archer bouncer, says Australia coach Justin Langer

Steve Smith was hit on the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer. Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Smith, who fell to the ground, retired hurt after receiving on-field treatment.

But after just 46 minutes away, he returned at the fall of the next wicket before he was lbw to Chris Woakes for 92.

That dismissal denied Smith his third hundred in as many Ashes innings after he marked his comeback Test following a 12-month ball-tampering ban, with scores of 144 and 142 in Australia's 251-run win at Edgbaston.

Significantly, Smith was wearing a helmet without the additional stem guard neck protection introduced following the death of Phillip Hughes after his former Australia teammate was hit by a bouncer in a 2014 domestic Sheffield Shield match in Sydney.

"He (Smith) just doesn't feel right (wearing a stem guard)," said Langer.

"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 in the future."

Former Australia batsman Langer was hit on the head several times during his Test career, including on debut by the West Indies' Ian Bishop at Adelaide in 1993.

But the 48-year-old was confident Saturday's blow would not do lasting damage to Smith's confidence against fast bowling.

"When you get hit, it's always in the back of your mind," said Langer.

"Any batsman who tells you it's not is a liar. But he (Smith) is also the sort of person who will do everything from now until the next time he bats — whether it's mentally, visualising or practising — to be right."

This series has seen the introduction of concussion substitutes, who can replace a batsman who has a severe head or neck injury.

But Langer insisted Australia had not taken an undue risk in allowing Smith to resume his innings.

"He passed all the testing and that's why he came back out," he said.

"These are like my sons alright, so you're never going to put them in harm's way, even though you're always in harm's way with Test cricket.

"What else do you do? The medicos cleared him, he wanted to get out there."

'Outstanding Archer'

Before this match, Langer said Australia would look to test Test debutant Archer's resilience.

The World Cup winner, in for the injured James Anderson, rarely let up, however, during a fine return of 2-59 in 29 overs.

"I've got massive admiration for Jofra," Langer said.

"But I did say like all bowlers, Test cricket is really hard.

"His endurance was outstanding today, his skill, his pace...To be able to bowl 29 overs today, what a great effort. Time will tell whether that has an impact."

Smith's 92 helped Australia close to within eight runs of England's first-innings 258.

Australia quick Pat Cummins then took two wickets in two balls, including dismissing England captain Joe Root for a golden duck.

At stumps, England were 96-4, a lead of just 104 runs.

Australia could yet now force a win that would put them 2-0 up with three to play even though five sessions in the match have been washed out.

"My thoughts are this is why we love Test cricket so much," said Langer.

"We've lost a couple of days — or nearly a couple of days — to rain and it's absolutely game on tomorrow."

Updated Date: Aug 18, 2019 11:29:40 IST






Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4027 115
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3778 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3795 95
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 India 8099 261
5 Australia 5471 261
6 New Zealand 4784 252