Travis Head brings out the stem guard after blow to Steven Smith

Of the many repercussions stemming from the awful blow suffered by Steven Smith during the Lord's Test, one of the most visible was the arrival of a stem guard on the back of the helmet of Australia's vice-captain Travis Head.

Having tried the neck guards in the wake of his team-mate Phillip Hughes' death in November 2014, Head had then elected not to use them for comfort reasons - much as Smith had done - but between innings of the Lord's Test sought out the team doctor Richard Saw for a neck guard to clip on for extra protection.

This meant that three of the Australian batsmen in the middle on day five - Head, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins - were wearing the neck guards, reflecting a shift from optional towards the mandatory standard that Cricket Australia is expecting to introduce in the next 12 months. Undoubtedly, the sight of Smith sprawled on the Lord's turf will be a strong encouragement for others to add it to their games before they are compelled to do so.

"I didn't usually [wear one]. I guess with the conditions in Australia you can sway out the way, the bounce is quite true," Head said. "I think what we have seen at Lord's with the slope there was a lot of balls following batters and going down the slope. I wore it yesterday and probably will wear it for the rest of the series I guess. The wickets are a little bit slower and you can get some that do different things, so it is not as true bounce. I guess, as you've seen with Steve getting hit, you can get yourself into tricky positions.

"So, I think it'll become mandatory, it is becoming mandatory next year with CA so I may as well get used to it now and then start putting them on. It is something I have played around with. I thought they were going to come in earlier so I trialled them as one of those things. They probably weren't as comfortable [but] I didn't really feel the difference yesterday. It is one of those things as batters, things that are working and not working and I might have worn them and missed out a couple of times and they go back into the kit. But the doc carries them around, so there's a box to whack them on and a few blokes did."

Asked whether there was any team rule about their use, Head said stem guards were currently in the same category as arm guards: something worn by some and not others. "It is each to their own. I guess it is like me with my arm guard," he said. "There is no reason it came up but I can save myself a broken arm if I get hit.

"We feel that the way we played at Edgbaston and most of the week this week [at Lord's], we can compete and play some really good cricket." Travis Head on the mood in the Australia change room

"So, again, there are a lot of guys wearing them; all of the bowlers are wearing them now, so it is the same thing: trying to protect yourself from injury. I want to play every single game I can. Anything that can help or that can stop something happening, I take it it into account. It is up to individuals."

In partnership with Marnus Labuschagne, Head was able to grind out the innings Australia required to escape Lord's with a draw and a 1-0 Ashes series lead, but it was a match notable for testing him in numerous ways. He never looked comfortable in the first innings before being pinned lbw on the crease by Stuart Broad from around the wicket. And even in the second innings, Head might well have been out several times to Jack Leach's left-arm spin, and was also dropped in the slips by Jason Roy with nearly 20 overs of the match still remaining.

"Yeah, I didn't start too well in the first innings," Head said. "Credit to them, they bowled quite well. I was a little bit disappointed with the way that I got out but those are the things I am working on and haven't [shown up] much in the last 12 months. Getting stuck on the crease now and then is disappointing, but I'll learn from it. In the second innings it was a bit more like I was at Edgbaston and, hopefully, I can continue to produce that and be nice and positive.

"I had the faith of JL [coach Justin Langer] and Painey to keep pushing the game and being positive and I think that's the way I play best. When aiming for a draw I was still quite positive in moments when I shouldn't have been but again, my best way to defend is sometimes to attack and sometimes it works and sometimes not. It's about picking the right moments I think, and making sure I am doing what's best for the team.

"So it is about making sure I pick up length quickly and I am really sharp. I think the process is really good and I was able to show that with how I played [on day five]."

Head reflected that the Australians were very much looking for victory when day five began, only to be frustrated into lowering their expectations by Ben Stokes' century. "We were quite confident going into the day that we could win it," he said. "But then Ben batted extremely well and put them into a fantastic position.

"So, it was about getting out of the game and out of the day and we were able to do that. There are still a lot of positives to take from the week, which is nice. I think the mood around the group since that moment is better and better and stronger and stronger. We feel that the way we played at Edgbaston and most of the week this week, we can compete and play some really good cricket."