Injury toll mounts for Australia with Steven Smith under cloud for third ODI

Australia tour of Sri Lanka 2022


Australia’s desire for improved output from their top-order could be made harder by the possible absence of Steve Smith for the third ODI against Sri Lanka as the tourists deal with yet another injury concern.

Smith was not expected to train on match eve in Colombo after hurting his left quad during Australia’s second ODI defeat in Kandy, their second straight match without a game-defining contribution from their top four.

The Aussies are understandably treating their star batter with caution given his importance for the two-Test series in Galle, which starts in less than a fortnight.

It may pave the way for one of Josh Inglis, Cameron Green (who had been scheduled to get the green light to resume bowling this weekend) or Mitch Marsh (fitness pending) to return for Sunday’s 50-over clash at the R.Premadasa Stadium.

Smith pulled up sore running a two in Australia’s run chase on Thursday, batting on with heavy strapping on his left leg before being dismissed two overs later. The team will make a call on his availability for third ODI tomorrow.

The visitors are scratching their heads at how they have managed to suffer an injury in every match they have played on their tour of Sri Lanka.

Mitchell Starc (finger), Marsh (calf), Kane Richardson (hamstring) went down in the first, second and third T20Is respectively, Ashton Agar and Marcus Stoinis both suffered side strains in the first ODI before Smith’s blow in the second ODI.

Sean Abbott also broke a finger in the nets before the series started, while Green (who has been available as a batter only for the first two ODIs but was overlooked) has been restricted from bowling in games as they manage his fitness ahead of the Tests.

“We’ve got everyone wrapped up in cotton wool for the next 24 hours,” wicketkeeper Alex Carey joked on Saturday.

If Smith were to miss all or some of the remaining ODIs, it could open the door for Marsh to take up the No.3 spot he has made his own in Australia’s world champion T20 team.

The allrounder, who has been nearing a return to action having completed batting and running sessions in recent days, has mainly been used at five and six in 50-over cricket but batted at three and four in his most recent ODIs in the Caribbean last year.

“I know he’s really close,” Carey said of Marsh’s potential return.

“‘Bison’ (Marsh) is one that can fit into any position which is great to have up our sleeve. It’s going to be about team balance.

“I’d expect him to probably play a similar role to the T20s. He’s been fantastic there, his intent is what we’re we trying to achieve, his spin play has been fantastic and he’s amazing against the quicks.”