STEVE SMITH was ruled out of the first one-day international after taking another blow to the head.
Run machine Smith, 31, was struck on Thursday by a ball pinged down by a member of Australia’s coaching staff in the nets at Old Trafford.
It is the second time in two summers that Smith has missed a match after being hit on the head.
Last year, he was taken to hospital and did not play in the famous Headingley Test – when Ben Stokes’ innings of 135 not out inspired England to an incredible win – after being felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s.
Aussie white ball captain Aaron Finch said at the toss: “Steve Smith misses out – he got a knock on the head yesterday in practice so that’s a precautionary measure. Marcus Stoinis will bat in his place at No.3.”
DOG THROWER GIZMO BLAMED
Smith was hit by a support staff member using the dog thrower gizmo favoured by coaches which allows them to generate extra pace. It is called a Sidearm.
Aussie team medics will take no chances with Smith and must decide whether he is fit to play in the second game of the three-match 50-over series on Sunday.
Head coach Justin Langer was a batsman hit on the helmet several times during his career and he knows the physical impact and potential damage to confidence that being ‘sconed’ can cause.
Smith scored 774 runs in seven innings in the Ashes last summer – including 211 and 82 at Old Trafford – and is the No.1 ranked Test batsman in the world.
He was stripped of the Aussie captaincy and banned for 12 months for his part in the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test in 2018.
Smith underwent a concussion test, which he passed, and will have another assessment on Saturday before it is decided whether he can play in the next game.
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