As everyone supporting Australia feared, Steve Smith has officially been ruled out of the Third Ashes Test, which starts tomorrow.
Smith unfortunately did not fully recover from the concussion he sustained from the Jofra Archer bouncer in the second Test.
Whilst Australia are currently leading the five-Test series 1-0, this is a major blow to their team. Without their premier batsman, the series could look very different when Smith will hopefully return to the side for the fourth Test in early September.
England will feel that their newest addition to their Test team, Jofra Archer gives them an edge and will be looking to turn their draw in the second Test into a win in the third.
Archer is by no means the fastest bowler ever to play the game, nor the fastest that a lot of the Australian batsmen will have faced, as Tim Paine, quoted on Wisden, quite rightly said:
Guys have been around bowling 145-150ks for a long time. It’s a challenge, but that’s why we’re playing Test cricket.
There is however no denying there would be a bit of apprehension in the minds of the Australian batsmen when facing Archer, especially at the start of their innings.
When you see two of your team mates felled by an Archer bouncer, and one of them is now out with concussion, that is going to cause some worry. It doesn’t help that Archer, since his introduction to international cricket has hit 19 batsmen in the head with his bouncers. Who can forget what he did to Hashim Amla in South Africa’s opening World Cup game?
With Steve Smith out, and given the way concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne handled Archer in the second Test, it would make sense for him to come in for the third Test tomorrow.
Given Australia’s shaky top order, and now without Smith in the middle to save them, they will be desperate for experienced opener, David Warner to find some much needed form.
I would hope to see Mitchell Starc make the starting team on Thursday. I think Australia need a bit of pace of their own, and as if Labuschagne wasn’t already in the firing line, Starc managed to strike him on the helmet during practice on Tuesday at the ground.
Thankfully Labuschagne was checked out by the team doctor and was cleared of any concussion.
After the captivating innings’ Steve Smith has had so far in the two Ashes Tests, scoring 144, 142 & 92 in his three innings, it is just an absolute shame that we will not be able to see him in the third Test.
England will be looking to take advantage of an Australian Team without Smith and get to Manchester on September 4th with the series tied 1-1.
The weather in Leeds looks promising so we should be set for a full 5-days of Test match cricket.
The third Test kicks off tomorrow at 12pm SA time.