Steven Smith's first thought was of Phillip Hughes after being struck by ball to the neck

'Particularly where I got hit, just a bit of past came up, if you know what I mean, from a few years ago' - Smith

Melinda Farrell
In the seconds after he was struck on the neck by a ball from Jofra Archer at Lord's, Steven Smith has revealed his very first thoughts were of the death of his teammate Phillip Hughes almost five years ago.
Smith did not play in the 2014 Sheffield Shield match at the SCG when Hughes also took a blow to the neck with tragic consequences, but could not escape an immediate flashback to that eerily similar moment before he was able to rise to his feet again.
"I had a few things running through my head, particularly where I got hit, just a bit of past came up, if you know what I mean, from a few years ago," said Smith, speaking with media after the third Test in Leeds. "That was probably the first thing I thought about.
"Then I was like, 'I'm okay here,' and I was alright. I was a little bit sad but I was alright mentally for the rest of that afternoon."
While Smith said he had felt "pretty good" physically and returned to bat soon after passing all the initial concussion tests, he was later found to have delayed concussion, a sensation he described as similar to having drunk too much alcohol.
"It wasn't until later that evening that it hit me," said Smith. "When the doc asked me what did it feel like I said it felt like I had six beers last night and felt a little bit under the weather, without the six beers unfortunately. That was the sort of feeling I got, that groggy feeling and that stuck around for a couple of days. Not a nice place to be in but these things happen and unfortunately missed what was a pretty amazing Test match."
After progressing through a number of tests, starting from a brisk walk and gradually working up to facing bowling from Mitchell Marsh and Michael Neser in the nets, Smith will play in Australia's tour match in Derby, starting Thursday, and if there is no recurrence of symptoms, he will return to the side for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford next week. In the build-up to that he will face faster bowling from Australia's quicks in the nets.
Smith is also considering wearing a StemGuard attachment on his helmet as he tries to overcome the significant discomfort he feels when wearing the neck protector.
"I've tried them before, and I tried them the other day when I was batting and I reckon my heart rate went up about 30 or 40 straight away," said Smith. "I just feel claustrophobic. I compare it to being stuck in an MRI scan machine."
It is no surprise that someone who is famously obsessive about routine, repetitive movements and immaculately precise kit - he tapes his shoelaces inside his trouser legs so they can't be seen - would be reticent to change, but he accepts that at some stage he will need to adapt.
"It was different, but I think at some point they're probably going to become mandatory so I'm going to have to get used to them," said Smith. "And I'm sure the more I wear them, the more I practice with them, my heart rate will come down and everything will be okay.
"Had I been wearing a stem guard in the game, I'm not sure that would have made a difference, the way my head sort of went back and where it hit me. Of course, you always want to have as much protection as possible and for me now it's about trying it and trying to get used to it in the nets."
One thing Smith is adamant he won't change is the way he faces Archer and, while he expects to face more short balls in Manchester, he suggested it may help him if England opt to test him with a short-pitched barrage.
"If they're bowling up there it means they can't nick me off, or hit me on the pad or hit the stumps," said Smith. "With the Dukes ball, I don't know, that's an interesting ploy. So we'll see what happens.
"I'm not really going to change anything. There's been a bit of talk that he's got the wood over me, but he hasn't actually got me out.
"He hit me on the head on a wicket that was a bit up and down at Lord's. He actually didn't get me out so all the other bowlers have had more success against me I daresay. I've faced them a bit more, but they've all got me out a lot more. I'm pretty comfortable with that."

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo