Australia coach Justin Langer admits he’s less confident that he’ll have star batsman Steve Smith available for Wednesday’s decisive One Day International against England.
Smith has missed both of the opening two ODIs due to concussion after being struck in the head in the nets the day prior to the opening match.
The former Australia captain has passed his concussion protocols and was due to bat in the nets again on Tuesday, but Langer said he looked a “bit rusty”.
The Australia coach had spoken to media in all-in press conference on Tuesday morning (UK time) where provided a good level of confidence that Smith would be available, but after watching the 31-year-old bat in the nets, Langer revised his view.
“He had a hit today and he still looks a bit rusty, to be honest,” Langer told SEN.
“We’ll give him until the last moment to play, but I’m not as confident now as I was 24 hours ago.”
Langer had said on Tuesday: “He did all his running yesterday. He did some high speed running and worked hard. As part of the protocols he’s ticked every box at the moment. He’ll 100% have a bat this afternoon.”
Smith’s potential return looms as a major factor ahead of the series decider, with Australia’s middle order stumbling when in control in pursuit of England’s low target in the second ODI.
Marcus Stoinis is the most likely player to make way for Smith, given the form of Marnus Labuschagne along with Mitch Marsh who’s bowled more overs than his fellow WA all-rounder.
For England, victory in the final ODI would complete a perfect summer of home series wins after triumphs over Pakistan, Ireland and the West Indies.
England bowler Chris Woakes said: “When you play Australia you always want to win and there is always enough on the line, but it would be really good for us to finish this summer on a high.”