Smith confident of test fitness after vertigo setback
Steve Smith has revealed that the concussion he suffered in a land accident last month led to a recurrence of the debilitating symptoms of vertigo that have troubled him in the past and have been linked to blows to the previous heads.
However, the former Australia captain today confirmed he is free of discomfort and ‘feeling good’ ahead of his team’s first Qantas Tour of Pakistan training session, and expects to be declared fit to play in the opening test from Rawalpindi on Friday.
Smith confirmed he was unconscious “for a few seconds” after landing heavily in a fielding attempt during the Dettol T20I second round between Australia and Sri Lanka at the SCG more than two weeks ago.
At the time, the 32-year-old was treated by team medical staff as he lay on the pitch beyond the boundary line and was later ruled out of the rest of the Dettol series after having suffered a number of blows to the head in recent years.
The most brutal of these was the blow he received from England’s speedy Jofra Archer at Lord’s during the 2019 Ashes campaign, which led to Smith becoming the first player in Test history to be substituted out. of a game due to a concussion.
He was ruled out of the next Test in that series due to the injury, and the following year nearly missed an ODI against India in Sydney when he awoke the morning of the match suffering from dizziness and vomiting due to to the formation of small crystals known as ‘ear wiggles’ in his middle ear.
Medical experts believe that head trauma resulting in concussion can also cause debris to be released into the inner canal, and these “ear rocks” can sometimes disrupt the body’s vestibular system, leading to dizziness and the associated symptoms.
Smith said today he suffered another bout of vertigo a few days after the latest concussion incident, but underwent treatment known as the Epley maneuver (where the head of patient is carefully manipulated to allow relocation of ‘ear’ crystals) and rapidly improved.
While he faced only bowlers and side arm throws in the MCG practice nets in the days before the team left for Pakistan last week, he expects to be subjected to a long batting streak against the Australian rapids in today’s training session at Rawalpindi. Cricket stadium.
Once he completes this last item on the concussion recovery checklist, he will be declared fit to play.
“I think I actually knocked myself out for a few seconds there,” Smith said of his last concussion alert, although the first to come from an incident on the field.
“Then when I came to, I was in a bit of a weird state and I knew straight away that I probably had a concussion after taking quite a few blows to the head.
“It was just headaches, a bit drowsy, then a couple of Fridays ago I had an incident of dizziness where I was struggling a bit that day.
“But I had the Epley maneuver and brought the crystals back to where they’re supposed to be in the inner ear.
“It’s not a very comfortable place, I tell you.
“After that things calmed down and I made really good progress.
“I was able to do all the drills I needed to get back into that ready-to-play state.
“I’ve done a lot of things where I’ve gotten my heart rate up to a good level, brought it back and that’s part of the protocols to get back into the game.
“I had a few good shots in Melbourne before we left but today it’s just about dealing with some fast bowling and once that’s done it should be fine.”
It was not just the prospect of testing himself against a battery of fast bowlers that had Smith excited about the team’s first training session since arriving in Islamabad last weekend for the first test tour of Australia to Pakistan since 1998.
Having acknowledged that he prides himself on his batting performance outside – his ‘outside’ Test average of 57.10 is just behind Don Bradman’s 102.85 among Australian batters to go 20 innings or more abroad – Smith relishes the challenge posed by his first visit to Pakistan.
And given his reputation as one of the game’s foremost problem solvers whose ability to think things through and find a way through unforeseen difficulties while in the fold, the combination of unseen terrain, unfamiliar locations and of a largely unknown opposition attack presents him with an irresistible contest.
“It’s something I’m proud of, being able to adapt ‘on the go’ to any circumstance or surface in front of me,” Smith said today.
“I think it’s really important to be able to do it very quickly.
“The next few days are going to be good, being able to have a hit on the surfaces (in Rawalpindi).
“I don’t know if they (the practice nets) are going to replicate what we’re going to come out in the middle, we’ll wait and see.
“I’m just thrilled to be in Pakistan and bring Test cricket back here.”
As well as quickly getting to grips with extraterrestrial conditions ahead of the start of the first of three tests at the end of the week, Australia finds itself in the unusual role of a traveling test team having mounted its latest overseas campaign. in England nearly three years ago.
In this series, Smith was the supremely dominant figure with 774 runs at an average of 110 in the four Tests he played, including three hundred and as many half-centuries.
However, in the four Test campaigns he has completed since then – against Pakistan, New Zealand, India and England, all in Australia – the top-ranked former Test batsman has returned an average more deadly by nearly 37 with his lone century against India at the SCG in January 2021.
And his streak average of 30.50 in the recently completed Vodafone Ashes against England represented his leanest result in campaigns where he has beaten more than twice since the 23.66 he managed in his last stay as skipper, against South Africa in 2018.
Smith acknowledged that the sparseness of Test cricket Australia have played since their record-breaking Ashes tour of England may partly explain the drop in their prolific scoring, given their oft-documented need to find their ‘hands’ and rhythm. hitting endless balls into the net and down the middle on game days.
“I love getting started and being able to play a lot of cricket, and just finding my rhythm,” he said.
“It’s been a few years, this is our first away tour since the Ashes in 2019, which is hard to fathom.
“Last tour away, I performed really well in the Ashes and hopefully I can replicate something similar in this series.
“The (recent Aussie) summer was pretty tough, the wickets had a fair amount of grass on them and a fair amount of seam movement.
“But I love playing on different surfaces and all the different challenges of playing on different surfaces around the world.
“Hopefully I’ll hit a lot of balls in the next few days and find a good rhythm before the first test on Friday.”
Qantas Tour of Pakistan 2022
Pakistani team: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc), Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Wasim, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Zahid Mahmood. Reserves: Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Haris
Australia Test Team: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc , Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner. Standby: Sean Abbott, Brendan Doggett, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Renshaw
March 4-8: First try, Rawalpindi
March 12-16: Second try, Karachi
March 21-25: Third try, Lahore
Australia ODI and T20 team: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa
March 29: First ODI, Rawalpindi
March, 31st: Second ODI, Rawalpindi
April 2: Third ODI, Rawalpindi
April 5: Only T20I, Rawalpindi
All matches will be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports