Smith ruled out of New Zealand series

Steve Smith’s untimely ankle injury has sent shockwaves through the Australian skipper and camp 27 days before the Test series opener against India in Pune.

While Matt Wade, Aaron Finch and Travis Head all have frontline captaincy experience, Cricket Australia and selectors have not ruled out recalling vice-captain David Warner from scheduled leave for the three match one-day tour of New Zealand.

Smith believes he will front for next month’s tour of India despite incurring a left medial ligament ankle strain in Australia’s series ending one-day win against Pakistan in Adelaide on Thursday.

“It is a bit of a shock, I was in a bit of pain last night, injured it, went off and got it strapped, looked at. I was struggling a bit last night and woke up in a reasonable amount of pain,” said Smith who underwent a further MRI scan in Sydney on Friday to determine if there was “more damage”.

“It’s 7-10 days and I am confident I will be right to train in Dubai and for the first Test against India.”

“I landed awkwardly on my foot. I haven’t really injured an ankle like that so I was a bit concerned but they think I will be fine after 7-10 days, almost normal.”

Warner, who cramped in the latter stages of his brilliant 179 against Pakistan in Adelaide on Australia Day, assumed leadership duties when Smith rolled his ankle in the 19th over of Pakistan’s innings and left the field. Smith was absent for an over but returned for the duration of Pakistan’s 49.1 overs innings (312) in a 57-run Australian triumph.

A telephone hook-up on Friday will determine Smith’s replacement. “I think there’s guys around the group who have leadership capabilities,” said Smith with Warner originally scheduled to link up with the Test squad in Dubai after the Chappell-Hadlee series.

Smith has averaged 68 in 11 Tests over the past 12 months and his absence against India would be unthinkable for a rebuilding side who depends heavily on his composure and drive at the crease.

Smith has averaged 41 across seven Tests against Sri Lanka and India in Asia which has proven a graveyard for Australian batsmen since Ricky Ponting’s all-star cast toppled India away in 2004.

Australia has lost its last nine Tests in Asia which Smith has attributed to “rubbish” batting. The 50-Test batsman recognised the importance of a safety first approach to his “recovery” for India.

“Every series is important and I would have loved to have been in New Zealand, feel like I am batting really well at the moment and when batting well I want to keep batting. It is disappointing from that aspect,” said Smith, who conceded he wouldn’t be “hitting any balls” until arriving in Dubai.

“We have a pretty big fish to fry in India and hopefully the boys will do a job in the Chappell Hadlee Trophy.”

“I wouldn’t be fit for the first game in New Zealand and unlikely for the second game. We have a lot coming up so it was thought it would be an opportunity rest it with a lot coming up in India.”

Australian Sport Science and Sports Medicine Manager, Alex Kountouris, added:

“Following further assessment this morning we believe Steve has sustained a medial ligament injury to his ankle. He will return to Sydney today to undergo scans to confirm the diagnosis.”  (Courtesy NT News)

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