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Aussies held their breath watching Steve Smith cop a ball to the head. We've been there before.

On Saturday, Australian cricketer Steve Smith was on his way to reaching a test century in the second Ashes Test when he was hit by rogue cricket ball.

The ball bowled by English cricketer Jofra Archer bounced on the pitch, hitting the 30-year-old on the neck just below the left ear at 148kph.

Instantly, he collapsed, throwing off his helmet before lying face down on the turf. Australian and English fans watching in the stands of London’s Lord’s cricket ground held their breath.

You can watch the moment Steve Smith copped a ball to the neck below. Post continues after video.

Video via Nine

Minutes passed and eventually, Smith was walked off the ground under the care of a medical team. It was international cricket’s first ‘concussion substitute’ – when a batsman must be subbed off due to a head injury.

Smith returned 40 minutes later to continue batting, having passed initial concussion protocols. A small group of English cricket fans booed him as he walked back out to the crease, and he was bowled out leg before wicket not long after.

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Smith was hit in the head by a ball from bowler Jofra Archer. Image: Getty.
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Australians held their breath when Smith hit the ground. Image: Getty.

Any true sports fan will tell you booing a player when they've been injured isn't in the true spirit of why we love sport so much.

Many fans, former cricket players and commentators tweeted their thoughts, calling the portion of the crowd who booed "disgraceful".

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But for Australians, whether you're a cricket fan or not, seeing any player hit near the head with a ball opens up old wounds.

For us, there's more to the story. A story that started with the tragic death of Phillip Hughes.

It's been almost five years since the Australian cricketing community and the Hughes family lost ‎Phillip Hughes in November, 2014.

A talented batsman and a character loved by everyone who knew him, Hughes was just 25 when he was struck on the top of the neck by a ball during a domestic match in Sydney. He never regained consciousness and passed away in hospital two days later.

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Phillip Hughes playing for Australia in 2010. Image: Getty.
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David Warner touches the tribute to the late Philip Hughes at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Image: Getty.

In cricket, balls bounce high all the time. Sometimes, it's a bowler's tactic. But this was a freakish accident we hadn't seen before.

And watching Smith fall face first into the ground this weekend, it was impossible not to be reminded of what happened to Hughes. The senseless loss of a promising cricketer and a young Australian is still fresh, years on.

Thankfully, in this instance, the blow to Smith wasn't fatal. He got up and, despite being ruled out for the third test which starts on August 22, he is set to make a full recovery.

‎But no matter how much time passes, who is at the crease or their past indiscretions, seeing any cricket player hit near the head with a ball will always feel close to home for us.

A sharp inhale of breath that we hold until a sign of movement, something, that lets us know they'll be okay.

That they'll get back up.

What did you think about the Steve Smith incident on the weekend? Let us know in the comments.

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