Aussie star man Smith ruled out of Ashes third test

England were handed a boost ahead of their third Ashes test at Headingley on Thursday after the announcement that Steve Smith would be missing for Australia.

Smith misses out after suffering concussion during the first innings of the second test at Lords, when the 30-year-old was hit in the neck by a 92mph bouncer from Jofra Archer.

Despite the blow to the neck, Smith was allowed to conclude his first innings after passing a concussion test.

Australia coach Justine Langer confirmed the influential player would be absent during the third test after sitting out training on Tuesday.

Smith has scored 142, 144 and 92 in the three innings he has faced so far in the series.

Questions have arisen as to how Smith was allowed to return to the crease after the blow to his neck, with Brain injury charity Headway saying it was “incredibly dangerous” for Smith to resume his innings.

“You need to take an ‘if in doubt’ approach,” said Headway deputy chief executive Luke Griggs.

“With concussion, the vision can be blurred and the brain can be slow at processing information. That leads to delayed reaction times and is just incredibly dangerous.”

Starc issues warning to England

Mitchell Starc has warned England that they should expect things to go from bad to worse for the remainder of the winter’s Ashes.

Starc has been in blistering form, taking 14 wickets in Australia’s two victories so far, and believes he and his colleagues have the scope to step it up another gear when the series heads to Perth.

England have not won in Perth since 1978, and Australia only need victory their to regain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead – regardless of what happens in the final two tests after.

The Aussie bowler is already licking his lips at the prospect of putting England under immense pressure, on a pitch which has been long renowned for being one of the world’s quickest.

“The exciting thing is our bowling group can still get better,” said the 27-year-old left-armer.

“We’ve obviously managed to take 40 wickets in the last couple of weeks and do some really good things, but I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Starc added: “‘Gazza’ (Lyon) is bowling outstandingly at the moment.

“That allows the other three of us to do what we need to do from one end if need be.

“Then Josh does what he does and allows Pat and me to bowl as fast as we want.

“I hope we see a nice, fast, bouncy wicket – a WACA of old – and we can get stuck into their batters again.”

Speedway: Three in a row for Poole as they win thrilling Elite League Grand Final

The Poole ‘Readypower’ Pirates have made history by winning their third Elite League title in as many seasons on Wednesday night  – becoming the first club in more than 40 years to do so.

It has been 43 years since the Pirates’ Grand Final opponents, the Belle Vue Aces achieved the treble and 2015 marks the 7th time that the Pirates have won the title.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Poole though as they were made to sweat by a resilient Belle Vue team at Wimborne Road, before the dream of that third title became reality.

The Dorset club got off to the best possible start, banging in two consecutive 5-1s in the opening two heats, courtesy of Australian duo Davey Watt and Chris Holder, along with the fast track reserve pairing of Paul Starke and Kyle Newman.

Watt and his partner, Grand Prix star, Holder saw off both fellow countryman Max Fricke and Holder’s GP rival Matej Zagar, while Starke and Newman managed to fend off the challenge from opposite numbers Steve Worrall and Stefan Nielsen.

A 4-2 from Australian ace Dakota North and Pirates’ captain Maciej Janowski meant that there was a danger of the meeting becoming a no-contest, however, the Aces responded with three straight heat advantages of their own to stop the Pirates in their tracks.

Despite looking far from comfortable in his early rides, following a crash in the first leg of this meeting in Manchester on Monday night, Polish star Kacper Gomolski kept out of the gate in heat number eight and with reserve rider Kyle Newman providing excellent support, the Pirates were able extend their lead even more with a crucial 5-1 over the Aces pairing of Fricke and Worrall.

Heat number 10 saw an intense battle which was worthy of a Grand Final, between GP riders Janowski and Zagar, with the Pole coming out on top. That increased Belle Vue’s deficit to eight points, and it took a brilliant ride from Holder to deny an Aces 5-1 in the 11th race as the meeting remained delicately poised.

Newman then took victory in the second of the reserves races, however is partner Starke, who was on his second machine, couldn’t add to the Pirates tally.

Despite this, a dominant ride by his skipper Janowski in heat 13 held the Pirates’ advantage at six points, leaving them tantalisingly close to winning the title, but also leaving the chance for the Aces to win it themselves.

That was about to change in Heat 14 though, as Gomolski made an excellent gate to hold off a battling Josh Grajczonek. But tensions rose when North fell, however, he managed to get to his feet and clear the track in order to avoid the stoppage – an effort which was duly applauded by the huge crowd.

The applause continued to echo around the packed Wimborne Road circuit as the injured Gomolski stuck to his task of holing off former Pirate  to seal the most important of victories and realise the dream.

However, the Aces, inspired by the British pair of Craig Cook and Scott Nicholls, managed to close the meeting out with a consolation 5-1, and went home knowing that they had well and truly played a part in this thrilling title race after holding the Pirates to a 46-46 draw in the first leg at Kirkmanshulme Lane two days ago.

But, the Pirates managed to find that extra edge and consequently were the team that now find themselves celebrating long into the night after another fantastic title defence.

1st leg (28/09/2015): Belle Vue Aces 46-46 Poole Pirates
Rider scores…
Belle Vue Aces: Matej Zagar 14+1, Craig Cook 12, Scott Nicholls 8+1, Josh Grajczonek 5, Max Fricke 4+2, Steve Worrall 2, Stefan Nielsen 1

Poole Pirates: Chris Holder 10+1, Kyle Newman 9+2, Paul Starke 9+2, Dakota North 7, Davey Watt 5, Maciej Janowski 4+1, Kacper Gomolski 2+2

2nd leg (30/09/2015): Poole Pirates 46-44 Belle Vue Aces (Poole win 92-90 on aggregate)
Rider scores…
Poole Pirates: Chris Holder 4+1, Davey Watt 7, Dakota North 6, Kacper Gomolski 7, Maciej Janowski 11, Paul Starke 4+1, Kyle Newman 7+2

Belle Vue Aces: Matej Zagar 5+1, Max Fricke 4, Josh Grajczonek 5, Scott Nicholls 10+3, Craig Cook 13, Steve Worrall 3+1, Stefan Nielsen 4+1