The Australian cricket team has hit by a fresh concussion scare for star batsman Steve Smith, who was ruled out of the first ODI against England.
Smith is no certainty to play in Sunday’s second ODI after copping a hit to the head while batting in the nets at training.
The health of the world’s No.1 Test batsman will be carefully monitored after he was a late scratching for Australia’s 19-run series-opening win on Friday.
Australia’s hierarchy have labelled Smith’s absence as precautionary after he was struck by a ball that came from a member of the coaching staff.
An Australian team spokesperson said Smith will be assessed for concussion again on Saturday before a call is made on his fitness for the remainder of the three-match series.
But given the 31-year-old’s history with concussion, Australia will likely play it safe with their former captain.
Smith became Test cricket’s first concussion substitute in the 2019 Ashes series when he was felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer in frightening scenes at Lord's.
He missed the dramatic third match of the series, before returning in the fourth Test to complete a remarkable personal campaign where he scored 774 runs at an average of more than 110.
Aussies take 1-0 lead in ODI series with England
Despite struggling early, Australia managed to score a memorable 19-run ODI win on Friday without Smith.
His replacement at No.3, Marcus Stoinis batted soundly for 43 before Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell’s 126-run stand boosted Australia to a match-winning total of 9-294.
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc suffered minor groin soreness in the field and will be assessed before game two.
Not even a maiden international century from Sam Billings could stop Australia from winning the first 50-over meeting between the rivals since England’s thumping semi-final victory at last year’s World Cup.
England found fast bowler Josh Hazlewood (3-26) near unplayable under lights in Manchester - and their slow start proved costly.
Eoin Morgan's world No.1 ranked team has built a fearsome reputation of piling on ODI runs in recent years, but they crawled to 2-22 after 10 overs as Hazlewood tied down his end with three maidens.
When leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4-55) dismissed captain Morgan and dangerman Jos Buttler in quick succession, England's bid to pull off the highest run-chase at Old Trafford was in tatters.
Opener Jonny Bairstow hung around amid the carnage, giving Australia some nervous moments as he lifted his flailing strike-rate during a 113-run stand with Billings.
Bairstow (84) went for one big shot too many and was caught in the deep off Zampa's bowling in the 34th over, before Billings fought on for a tremendous 118.
Earlier, Maxwell (77) and Marsh (73) stepped up in Smith’s absence by pulling Australia out of a hole with their gutsy sixth-wicket partnership.
Australia were on the ropes at 5-123 after Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl, when the oft-maligned all-rounders came together.
In his first ODI for more than a year, Maxwell made a cautious start before launching four sixes with some of his trademark explosive hitting.
The big-hitting Victorian was bowled by Archer (3-57) when trying to lift the run-rate, but Marsh remained watchful in recording his best ODI score against England before being trapped lbw by paceman Mark Wood.