Cricket Australia officials have defended the decision to allow Steve Smith to return to the crease after his sickening head knock at Lord’s.
As news broke on Sunday night that Smith had been ruled out for the remainder of the second Ashes Test with delayed concussion, many felt it was proof that he shouldn’t have been allowed to bat on during Australia’s first innings.
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Smith was taken from the field after being struck on the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer, but returned to the crease soon after when Pat Cummins was dismissed.
On Monday, Cricket Australia's sports medicine boss said he is comfortable with the way Smith's concussion was handled, saying it would be an overreaction to enforce players sitting out the rest of the game if struck in the head.
Smith is in doubt for the third Test after being substituted out of the Lord’s clash with delayed concussion symptoms.
Smith woke up on Sunday's fifth day with a headache and other symptoms, prompting Australia to replace him with Marnus Labuschagne - international cricket's first concussion substitute after the policy was introduced at the start of this series.
That Smith was allowed to resume his innings raised eyebrows, but CA's sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris noted about 30 per cent of concussions did not present symptoms immediately.
"The reality is that only about one in five or one in six head impacts end up being concussions," he told reporters on Monday.
"So we just need to monitor them and we have a good protocol in place.
"If you look at that game, there was three other head impacts and only Steve developed a concussion.
"If we pulled out every player who had a head impact, we'd be pulling out 80 per cent of players who don't have a concussion. That would be an overreaction."
Kontouris said Australia's team doctor Richard Saw, who assessed Smith both on and off the field, was an expert in dealing with concussions and had the final say in whether players should return to play under CA's protocols.
The International Cricket Council has not sought to make it a requirement to have independent doctors in place, and Kontouris said CA was comfortable with the status quo.
Smith ‘didn’t seem to be all there’
Renowned cricket writer Malcolm Know led the criticism that Smith was allowed to bat on, pointing to his bizarre dismissal just 12 runs later as a sign he wasn’t right.
“We build a protocol of concussion rules, which Smith passed so successfully he was back out in the middle half an hour after he had been a whisker from losing his life,” Know wrote on Sunday.
“Was he concussed? No, but he didn't seem to be all there either.
“He hoicked his second ball over midwicket like beach cricket, and then stood in front of a straight ball, walked off before the umpire had given his decision, and threw a review request over his shoulder. Huh? Wasn't this its own concussion test?”
Things that shouldn’t have happened over the weekend:— Henry Dawson (@HenryRCDawson) August 18, 2019
Steve Smith should not have returned to bat, you get hit like that on the head concussion tests are irrelevant.
However, magnificent cricketer, great battler. All time great.
Poor decision to allow Smith to continue his innings. Aussies may claim they’re the leaders in concussion protocols but the way Smith batted on his return shows he wasn’t right, yet ‘try stopping him’ is all they rattled out https://t.co/YbXGIceKRx— Sir Bob (@BobtheRed1) August 18, 2019
It wasn’t brave or classy to go back out it was at best foolish. A second blow to the head could have had drastic and potentially life changing consequences— Kerry Church (@Kes0822) August 18, 2019
Life comes before Cricket, he shouldn't have been allowed to come out again to bat yesterday.— K D Deshmukh (@ImKrishna423) August 18, 2019
No it was not wise decision— Okuhle Wela (@SandileWela) August 18, 2019
I'm not sure this video is the best promotion of the decision making process. "What can you do?" I'm sure your medical staff wouldn't be using the sentences JL used. The decision is never one for player's, as they'd never admit they're not up to it when 💯 is on offer pic.twitter.com/mc2qzBe9b3— 💧Stephanie Dempsey (@Stephanie85WAGY) August 17, 2019
There is no mandated minimum time on the sidelines beyond the initial 24 hours but Smith remains highly unlikely to recover in time for the third Test that starts in Leeds on Thursday.