Australia's coach Justin Langer has revealed that Steven Smith was effectively ruled out of the entire ODI series against England from the moment it became clear he would not be fit for the opening match due to concussion symptoms.
During an enthralling three-match series in which Australia won the opening game, lost the second after a hectic collapse and then rebounded from an equally hopeless position to claim the decider, Smith's possible availability was discussed around each match, even to the point that Langer said before the third he was only one strong net session away from returning. However, Smith was then visibly ill at training in trying to prove his fitness before the final game and was ruled out.
Langer gave a somewhat different account of events from the vantage point of the end of the series as he begins the first of two fortnight-long stints of hotel quarantine, the first at Adelaide Oval's new hotel and then in Perth once he returns to his home town.
"We saw how unwell he looked, doing his very best to get up," Langer said. "No one in the world loves playing cricket and batting more than Steve Smith does. So, I said to him after he didn't play the first game, it's very likely that will rule you out from the whole series, mate. Because we had to play three games in five to six days. It wasn't a surprise to me.
"The protocols are there for a reason. We've been really fair with those protocols and been consistent with them. It's unfortunate it's been Steve Smith the last couple of times and we're really hopeful he gets back up and running in the IPL. We expect him to come back and play great cricket. He's a great cricketer and he loves playing. We talk to him every day."
Smith still needs to pass the last handful of concussion protocols being jointly monitored by Cricket Australia and his IPL club Rajasthan Royals in the UAE, where he is club captain alongside the coach Andrew McDonald, who also serves as Langer's senior assistant. The Royals' first match is to take place against Chennai Super Kings in Sharjah on Tuesday night.
"We keep in touch with the players but also with Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich, Andrew McDonald of course, there are a number of Australian coaches over there who we stay in touch with," Langer said. "We'll keep a close eye on the guys...we've been away for five weeks after the guys, the sacrifices they are making are huge. I know they get paid well but the sacrifices to their families and the game of cricket are huge.
"I admire and respect for them for that. You look at a David Warner or Steve Smith or a Josh Hazlewood or Pat Cummins, they had their quarantine before they left for England, they go straight into the IPL, they play that competition and they come back for two weeks, strict quarantine back in Australia, and then we start a summer against India which is one our biggest rivalries in world cricket today.
"These guys are under huge pressure and that's why we have to care for them and look after them and make sure they're going okay. If they need to chop out [and see their families], as I said, they'll have our 100 percent support to do that."
Australia's victory in the final match of the tour, after a couple of frustratingly lost opportunities in both the T20I and ODI series, allowed all concerned to fly out of the UK, whether into the IPL or quarantine in Adelaide, with a happier perspective on all that had gone before than if the trip had ended in a defeat.
"It was brilliant. Everything considered, the whole tour to England was an incredible success, after four months of no cricket, the way our guys played in the T20s where we were so close, and then to beat England, who are the best one-day team in the world, 2-1 on their soil was very satisfying," Langer said.
"The wicket in the last game was very different to the first two games, which was nice to be tested on different surfaces. For our guys to go away with victory, it's amazing the fine line, it's more fun winning than losing, the smiles on our faces leaving the country after everything that had gone into it was a credit to everyone involved."