CHRISTCHURCH (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith shook off a sickening blow to the back of his head and notched up his 14th test century, earning the praise of his team mates and New Zealand opponents at the end of the second day of the second test on Sunday.
Smith was on 78 shortly before tea when he was hit by a Neil Wagner bouncer and dropped to his knees, immediately prompting gasps from the crowd at Hagley Oval.
Australia are still mindful of the death of their team mate Phillip Hughes, who was killed in late 2014 after being hit by a bouncer in a first class match, and fellow centurion Joe Burns said there was real concern when his captain dropped to the pitch.
“It certainly always a concern when you see someone get hit in the head, it got him quite flush as well,” Burns told reporters after Australia finished the second day on 363 for four, just seven runs adrift of New Zealand.
“Fortunately the medical staff was out there very quickly, they gave him the all clear. Luckily the tea break was around the corner so he could sit down for 20 minutes and let the shock settle.”
Smith went to register his 14th test century after the break before he was eventually dismissed for 138, by Wagner. Burns fell to the same bowler for 170 with both out in the final 30 minutes of play.
Left-armer Wagner, who has been tasked in recent tests for New Zealand to deliver the short-pitched barrages against the batsmen, said he thought Smith’s response showed the type of character he was.
”I ran up straight to him and he flashed his eyes a little bit,“ Wagner said. ”He said he was fine and he took a bit of time which we all said ‘make sure you take enough time and get yourself ready’.
”(But) it’s not nice, is it? It’s bit of a shaky feeling. It’s never one’s intention to hit someone in the head and see him go down like that.
”I think a hell of a lot of credit to him to take a blow like that and stand up and bat the way he did, shows the character of the bloke he is, so credit to him.
“I thought he did pretty well from there.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty