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Sport Smith opens up on pain of Adelaide Test after Hughes' death

22:26  26 november  2019
22:26  26 november  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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What Steve Smith recalls most vividly about the Adelaide test of five years ago was that the cricket itself felt "almost irrelevant". Amid the devastation which followed the death of Phillip Hughes just 12 days before, Michael Clarke's Australian team took on India in a series that began in a different city

a baseball player pitching a ball on a field: Smith raises his bat to the sky after reaching a century against India at Adelaide.© Getty Smith raises his bat to the sky after reaching a century against India at Adelaide.

What Steve Smith recalls most vividly about the Adelaide Test of five years ago was that the cricket itself felt “almost irrelevant”.

Amid the devastation which followed the death of Phillip Hughes  just 12 days before, Michael Clarke’s Australian team took on India in a series that began in a different city and on a different date to what was originally scheduled.

There were emotional centuries for Clarke, who battled through the pain of a flared-up back, and for Smith, as well as two each for David Warner and Virat Kohli, who had travelled to Macksville for Hughes’ funeral the week before. Nathan Lyon took 12 wickets.

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It was the last Test in Adelaide before the pink ball Test era, Australia would win a classic and days later a 25-year-old Smith would become captain for the rest of the series because of the latest hamstring injury Clarke had suffered in Adelaide.

“It was kind of a carefree week, if that makes sense, cricket-wise,” said Smith, asked about the fifth anniversary of Hughes’ passing, which falls on Wednesday.

“It was sort of like, ‘This is actually almost irrelevant in a way’. We’re just going out and doing what we were doing and we actually played really well. But it was literally like we were just playing because that’s what we’re here to do. There wasn’t really too much emotion around our performances and how we wanted to play, if that makes sense.

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After hearing of Hughes ' death , Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the nation's thoughts and prayers were with the felled cricketer's family. Former Australian captain Ponting, the skipper when Hughes earned his first Test cap, arrived at St Vincent's shortly after lunch on Thursday flanked by pace

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a man wearing a helmet: Smith and Hughes in action together during the Ashes in England in 2013.© PA Smith and Hughes in action together during the Ashes in England in 2013.

“It was obviously a tough week. Batting-wise [there are] some pretty fond memories. I think I played well, got a 162 [not out], I think it was. And I remember getting my hundred and going over to the 408 [Hughes’ Test number] on the ground and raising my bat and paying tribute to our mate we lost a few days before. Other than that I can’t really remember a lot of the week.”

Smith also spoke of Hughes during the Ashes this year after he had been struck in the neck and knocked to the ground by a Jofra Archer bouncer in a frightening moment at Lord’s. There were gasps around the famous ground and then silence before it quickly became apparent that Smith was all right, and after being led off for a head injury assessment he resumed batting, only to be later diagnosed with delayed concussion.

"I remember getting up and my first thought was, I got hit in a pretty similar place to where Hughesy got hit, and I was like, 'I'm OK'. It's not fair in a way," Smith said in England.

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Many things have changed since that most sombre of lead-ins to the Adelaide Test, among them the safety developments in the game. There are now stronger protocols around concussion including the allowance of substitutes for players who sustain head injuries during matches, as well as manufacturing improvements such as the helmet stemguards which after the blow at Lord's Smith began to use.

The game cannot entirely rid itself the risk of serious injury or catastrophe but Smith believes it is safer.

"I think so," he said. "You’ve got the stemguards in now for that little bit of extra protection. Most players are wearing those now. I’m probably one of the last ones to finally take that hurdle. But I think the game is in a good place."

With the day-night Test starting on Friday, the Australians will begin training at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday and Hughes won't be far from their thoughts.

“Some of the boys here were pretty close to Phil,” Smith said. “I dare say some of the boys will reflect and think about our little mate, that’s for sure.”

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After hearing of Hughes ' death , Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the nation's thoughts and prayers were with the felled cricketer's family. 'Apparently some of them in that NSW team were sitting in that dressing room up until midnight last night. They went back for a counselling session, while there was

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