Ashes 2019: Smith 'a lot better' ahead of potential third Test return - Head

By Sports Desk August 20, 2019

Travis Head says there is "definitely a chance" Steve Smith will feature in the third Ashes Test at Headingley as he is looking "a lot better".

The influential Smith retired hurt in the first innings of the second match at Lord's having been struck on the neck by a bouncer from paceman Jofra Archer, only to return later that day.

However, Smith did not take part at all on day five after suffering with delayed concussion and his status for the contest in Leeds, which starts on Thursday, remains unclear.

Concussion protocol will see Smith closely monitored, yet Australia colleague Head is encouraged by the star batsman's improvement in recent days.

Although Head acknowledged "it will probably be taken out of Steve's hands", he believes his team-mate is recovering in good time.

"There's definitely a chance [of Smith playing]. He's feeling better day by day," Head told talkSPORT. "I know he was a lot better yesterday.

"He'll have a run around and a light training session [on Tuesday] and that's key. It's not about overloading over these next couple of days. We're keeping him fresh, giving him the best opportunity to play.

"He doesn't really need a lot of time in the nets. He'll want to, but it's about making sure he's fresh, his mind, brain and everything is fresh. He's got no more signs of that concussion.

"He's ready to go, he doesn't need any extra preparation. He's been batting beautifully and playing beautifully.

"I'm sure he doesn't need to do anything over the next couple of days, he can walk straight out and play and get the same results hopefully. Fingers crossed."

Smith's role in the Australia ball-tampering scandal last year, for which he served a 12-month ban, has seen him jeered by English fans throughout the series so far.

Head felt the crowd was largely supportive at Lord's and suggested the way the former Test captain has responded to adversity shows him to be among the very best.

"He showed over the last two weeks how classy he is," Head said of Smith.

"The booing and whatnot, there wasn't a lot of it at Lord's. The Lord's crowd was fantastic throughout the week. There were little bits and pieces of it.

"I think the way he went about it showed great character. The way he's played over the last two weeks has been fantastic, under high pressure - high pressure from himself, the importance he puts on himself.

"I think he's one of the best that has probably played the game and he's showing that at the moment."

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