The end of another competitive Ashes series between England and Australia has seen Australia retain the urn after the five-match serious ended 2-2.
There are two certainties in life at present; the sun will rise in the east and Steve Smith’s burning desire to bat…and bat…and bat.
The Roar has been showing a video of a club rugby player who went in to make a tackle and suffered an injury from a bad head clash.
What do these two issues have in common?
In the footy game, the referee orders the player from the field because, in the ref’s opinion, he was clearly concussed. The player thought differently and refused to go until the ref very gently said “leave the field, you’ll thank me later in life”, or words to that effect.
Steve Smith has also suffered a significant “head clash”, this time with a cricket ball and the same advice should be applied to his situation.
There’s lots of temptation to ignore his medical condition. Australia managed to escape with a draw at Lord’s, have only a few days before the crucial Third Test at Headingley and Smith has shown he’s the best batsman on either side by a country mile. The Leeds Test is one Australia cannot afford to lose, given the momentum swing that occurred at Lord’s.
England is fired up and believe they have Australia’s measure, even though they’re one down in the series. If they can scrape a win in the next game, they may get James Anderson back and there’s every chance they could go on to sweep the final two Tests.
Steve Smith will know all that and will clearly realise he’s the main, perhaps only hope Australia has of stemming the tide, given the indifferent form of David Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja in particular.
If this is coupled with his overwhelming desire to make runs, Smith could try and come back too early and the results for his health and the team’s performance could be grim.
Cricket is entering a realm normally associated with contact sports such as the rugby codes and Aussie Rules. The administrators responsible for managing Steve Smith’s injury need to ignore his importance to the team and focus on managing his condition, just as they do in footy.
Luke Keary in the NRL is a very good example of a player being concussed and his coach not forcing him back too soon, but allowing Keary and the doctors to make sure he was right to go. No doubt there are similar examples in the other codes.
This may mean Smith is out of the side for more than the next Test. He may well miss the rest of the series, depending how long it takes him to recover fully from this injury, but the emphasis must be on a full recovery.
Sportspeople are regularly carrying niggling injuries into games, but head injuries should not be seen in the same light as a leg or arm injury. It’s not inconceivable that another head injury to Smith, because he wasn’t fully fit, could have a compound impact on his overall health.
Australian cricket fans would love to see him playing the next three Ashes Tests and he should do so – but only if he has completely recovered from the blow to the head. If not, missing the next game or three is not the end of the world.
This man is 30 years old and has at least another 40 or 50 years to enjoy living, all things being equal. As the ref said to the footy player “you’ll thank me in later life”. Smith needs to heed this advice and get his head injury 100 per cent right or risk doing serious damage to his health that could become a problem after he finishes playing.