Steven Smith will bat in the nets on Tuesday and is "definitely tracking in the right direction" to play in the deciding one-day cricket international against England, Australia coach Justin Langer said. Australia's star batsman, missed the first two matches of the ODI series after getting hit on the head from a throwdown by a member of the coaching staff in practice.
Smith was back running on Monday and has "ticked every box" so far in his recovery, Langer said. Provided he gets through an eve-of-match net session, Smith seems primed to return for the Australians at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
"Fingers crossed," Langer said.
"We have been going through all the concussion protocols and he is definitely tracking in the direction. Hopefully, he will be alright for tomorrow.
"If he doesn't come up again, we will keep his like all of our players' health in mind."
The series is tied at 1-1. It is Australia's last match on its limited-overs tour of England.
Langer also added that he regrets there were not more conversations among the squad about taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before matches on the ongoing white-ball tour of England. While players from the England and West Indies teams took the symbolic position on the field before the start of every match in their three-test series in July, the same has not happened during Australia's tour.
Australia captain Aaron Finch previously said his team decided against taking a knee after raising the matter with England skipper Eoin Morgan because "education around it is more important than the protest."
That brought a stinging rebuke from West Indies great Michael Holding, who has called the response from England and Australia "lame." Asked on Tuesday about Australia's stance on the Black Lives Matter movement, Langer acknowledged it could have been discussed more upon the squad's arrival in England as the first sports team from Australia to travel overseas since the COVID-19 pandemic broke.
"In terms of taking a knee, to be completely honest, we could have talked more about it perhaps leading up to the first game," Langer said.
"There was so much going on leading up to us getting here, maybe we should have talked more about it.
"What we do talk about within the team, was that we want to have a response that is sustained and powerful and that it can go not just in one action but a sustained period not just throughout this series and the summer but throughout time."
Langer described Holding, who has been a vocal advocate of Black Lives Matter, as "one of the great people in world sport, and certainly our game." "I just hope," Langer said, "if it looked like there was a lack of respect, it wasn't the intention of our team. We were very aware of it. When Mikey says what he says, it's certainly worth listening to."
It has turned out to be a frustrating limited-overs tour of England for Smith and the same could be said for opener David Warner, who has been dismissed by paceman Jofra Archer in all four innings he has played across the T20 and ODI matches. On three occasions, he has made only single-figure scores.
In the teams' last 10 matches, Archer has removed Warner seven times. Langer is unperturbed by that record and is backing Warner to strike back. "Jofra Archer is an incredibly talented bowler but equally, Davey Warner, what a player," Langer said.
"I know when he gets in, he scores hundreds in one-day cricket. Not many people have the ability like he does.
"Davey, he is a superstar, an incredibly important part of our side. I'm sure he's working overtime to be up for tomorrow night's game."