Steve Smith was the prime reason for Australia's 251-run win against England in the first Test at Edgbaston. Smith scored centuries in both innings and in the Lord's Test, on a difficult surface, Smith showed his class when he smashed 92. However, during that innings, he faced up to a hostile spell from Jofra Archer and he was struck on the side of the neck by a 93mph bouncer. The blow forced Smith to retire hurt but he returned to bat. On the final day of the match, Smith was withdrawn as he suffered a concussion and he was forced to miss the third Test in Leeds. In his absence, Australia were boosted by Marnus Labuschagne but Australia were blown away by a brillant 135 from Ben Stokes as England leveled the series with a one-wicket win in their chase of 359.
Smith was seen practising in the side nets in Leeds and he has been cleared to play in the tour game against Derbyshire. Many analysts had said Archer was Smith's nemesis after hitting him on the side of the neck but Smith has laughed the thought off, stating that he never got him out.
"There's been a bit of talk that he's got the wood over me, but he hasn't actually got me out. He hit me on the head on a wicket that was a bit up and down at Lord's. He actually didn't get me out. All the other bowlers have had more success against me, I daresay. I've faced them a bit more, but they've all got me out a lot more," Smith said.
With Archer unsettling Smith with a bouncer, many believe that England's bowlers might employ this as a plan in the upcoming Test at Old Trafford. Smith, though, has a different take on the entire issue. "If they're bowling up there it means they can't nick me off, or hit me on the pad or hit the stumps. With the Dukes ball I don't know, it's an interesting ploy. So we'll see what happens," Smith said.
Smith had earlier described the feeling of a delayed concussion and said the first thoughts were what happened to Phillip Hughes in 2014 when the batsman died after being hit on the side of the neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott in the Sheffield Shield clash in Sydney.
"I had a few things running through my head, particularly where I got hit, just a bit of past came up, if you know what I mean, from a few years ago. That was probably the first thing I thought about. t wasn't until later that evening that it hit me. When the doc asked me what did it feel like I said it felt like I had six beers last night and felt a little bit under the weather, without the six beers unfortunately. That was the sort of feeling I got, that groggy feeling and that stuck around for a couple of days. Not a nice place to be in but these things happen and unfortunately missed what was a pretty amazing Test match," Smith said.
The five-match Ashes series is level 1-1 and the fourth Test will take place at Old Trafford on September 4.