Australian batter Steve Smith has revealed a worrying vertigo incident delayed his recovery from a concussion scare that hindred his preparation for Australia’s historic cricket tour of Pakistan.
Last month, Smith concussed himself while attempting to prevent a boundary during the final over of a T20 match against Sri Lanka at the SCG.
The 32-year-old was sidelined for the remainder of the white-ball series but recovered from the head knock in time for Australia’s flight to Pakistan last week.
Watch Australia’s Tour of Pakistan on Kayo. Every Test, ODI and T20 Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
But speaking to reporters from his Islamabad hotel on Tuesday, Smith detailed how his recovery only progressed after vertigo symptoms were treated by the Epley manoeuvre.
However, the Australian No. 4 was free from discomfort and “feeling good” ahead of his team’s first training session on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’ve had headaches and drowsiness,” Smith said. “A couple of Fridays ago, I had a vertigo incident where I was struggling for a bit that day.
“But I had the Epley manoeuvre and got the crystals back where they’re supposed to be in the inner ear – it’s not a very comfortable place to be, I will tell you that.
“After that, things settled down and progressed really nicely.
“I have been able to do all the exercise stuff that I needed to do to get myself back to that ready-to-play state, so everything is going well.”
The right-hander nearly missed Australia’s ODI series against India in November 2020 due to an extreme bout of vertigo. He was vomiting on the morning of the first match due to the formation of small crystals in his middle ear.
Smith is no stranger to concussion symptoms — he missed the third match of the 2019 Ashes series after England paceman Jofra Archer struck him on the neck during the Lord’s Test.
And then in 2020, Smith was sidelined for most of Australia’s white-ball series against England after being hit in the head by a throw down from assistant coach Trent Woodhill.
Smith only faced spin bowlers and side-arm throwdowns in the MCG practice nets ahead of the squad’s departure for Pakistan last week, and the former Australian captain needed to survive a pace bowling barrage on Tuesday to prove his fitness ahead of the first Test at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
“I have the opportunity to face some fast bowlers today which I am looking forward to,” Smith explained.
“And I am looking forward to the next three days of prep before we get started on Friday.
“The head has progressed really well the last few days so I am feeling in a good space.
“I have done a lot of stuff where I have got my heart rate up to a good amount and brought it back down and that is part of the protocols of getting back to playing.
“And I had a couple of good hits in Melbourne before we came away.
“But today is obviously just about ticking off facing fast bowling. And once that is done, then everything should be fine.”
Smith has scored 755 Test runs against Pakistan at an average of 53.92, with a high score of 165 not out at the MCG in December 2016.
The New South Welshman also boasts a formidable away record in Test cricket, with 3883 runs to his name at 57.10. The only cricketer to have played more away Test matches while maintaining a higher batting average than Smith is England legend Wally Hammond with 66.32.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia had not played an away Test match since the 2019 Ashes series, and Smith is eager to rediscover some momentum after a lacklustre home summer.
“I love getting on a roll and being able to play a lot of cricket, and just finding my groove,” he said.
“It’s been an odd couple of years, this is our first away tour since the Ashes in 2019 which is hard to fathom.
“The last away tour, I performed really well in the Ashes and hopefully I can replicate something similar in this series.
“The (recent Australian) 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 hit a lot of balls in the next few days and find a nice rhythm going into the first Test on Friday.”
The first Test between Pakistan and Australia gets underway on Friday, with the first ball scheduled for 4pm AEDT.
Australia’s tour of Pakistan
March 4-8 — First Test, Rawalpindi
March 12-16 — Second Test, Karachi
March 21-25 — Third Test, Lahore
March 29 — First ODI, Rawalpindi
March 31 — Second ODI, Rawalpindi
April 2 — Third ODI, Rawalpindi
April 5 — Only T20I, Rawalpindi