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DERBY: Steve Smith was back playing in his first match since being concussed by England fast bowler Jofra Archer as Australia faced Derbyshire on Thursday.

But with Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman deciding to bat after winning the toss, Smith had to wait for his first innings since being hit on his unprotected neck during the drawn second Test at Lord's.

Smith, felled by a 92 mph Archer bouncer, was ruled out of the rest of that match -- with concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne taking his place -- and his injury meant he also missed England's dramatic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley that levelled the five-match Ashes series at 1-1.

But star batsman Smith is set to make his Test comeback in next week's fourth Ashes match at Old Trafford provided he comes through this three-day fixture in Derby unscathed.

There was a worrying moment for Smith early Thursday when a ball landed just short of him at second slip and hit him a painful blow on the hand but the star batsman shook off the injury.

Smith also bowled the last over before lunch, with the occasional spinner's warm-up delivery sailing yards wide before he started the over proper with a friendly full toss.

Derbyshire were 71-3 at lunch, with fast bowler Michael Neser, not expected to make a Test debut next week, taking all the wickets to fall in a spell of 3-20 from seven overs.

Smith, 30, marked his return to Test cricket following a 12-month ban that cost him the Australia captaincy with scores of 144 and 142 during Australia's 251-run win in the series opener at Edgbaston.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019