It looks like problems are not ready to die down anytime soon for the Rajasthan Royals (RR). Already reeling with the uncertainty of Ben Stokes’ availability for the season, the franchise may have to play the first few matches of the season without skipper Steve Smith, who has lingering concussion symptoms.
According to a report by ESPNcricinfo, Cricket Australia’s (CA) head of sports science Alex Kountouris has said that Steve Smith has been making progress but wasn’t ready to play the final ODI against England in Manchester.
Australian skipper Aaron Finch described his status as ‘groggy’ at the toss in the third ODI on 16 September. Even though Justin Langer had said that Smith was hitting the ball well in the nets, it just wasn’t enough to be in the headspace for the game.
"“Steve is making progress and working with our medical team through the concussion protocols required to return to play. Unfortunately, he was not ready to play the final ODI against England. We are working collaboratively with his IPL franchise on his return to play from here once he arrives in the UAE.”" - Alex Kountouris, CA’s head of sports science Alex Kountouris to ESPNcricinfo
The problem of concussion and recovering from it isn’t new for Steve Smith. In the last year’s Ashes, Jofra Archer’s speedy bouncer hit Smith’s helmet and consequently he couldn’t play the following Test match. Thus, he got around 10 days for recovery.
This time, it wasn’t the opposition, but a "dog thrower" short ball from Trent Woodhill, the assistant coach of the Australian team. The delivery struck Smith on the side of the helmet in the training ahead of the first ODI at Old Trafford. This time though, there were three matches within six days, so he couldn’t really attain full fitness in such a short time, to play without any discomfort.
Therefore, RR find themselves in a dodgy position due to the uncertainty over Steve Smith regaining his full fitness.
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