‘Steve Smith’s livid and rightly so’: Australian batsman involved in heated spat with umpire Nigel Llong
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl first at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the iconic Boxing Day Test match. Trent Boult got New Zealand off to a great start as he sent back Joe Burns for a first-ball duck. David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne steadied the ship, but Tim Southee sent Warner packing and New Zealand gained ascendancy.
Out walked Steve Smith and Neil Wagner started sprinting in, he was targeting Smith with the short-pitched stuff. The left-armer came around the wicket and was aiming the body of Smith with aggressive short-pitched stuff. He hit Smith twice on the body as the batsman did not offer any stroke, however, he tried to steal a single, but umpire Nigel Llong stepped in and asked Smith to stay at his end.
Llong signalled dead ball on both occasions as he believed Smith was not offering any stroke. The first call did not raise any eyebrows, but the second such instance led to an intense debate between Smith and Llong as the ball hit him under the ribs.
Although the batsman was taking an evasive action, he was entitled to take a run, but the umpire interpreted it differently. Shane Warne, who was on air, was not too impressed with the call.
“Well the umpire’s wrong,” Warne said on Fox Cricket. “Steve Smith has every right to be angry because the interpretation Nigel Llong is giving at the minute is incorrect.
“The rule is if you evade a short ball and it hits any part of your body you’re allowed to run even if you don’t play a shot.
“I’m sure someone’s going to have a chat to Nigel Llong in the lunch break because Steve Smith’s livid and rightly so.”
In many ways, this certainly set the tone for the rest of the Test match as a furious Smith was seen walking away from the umpire even as Llong tried to put in his own version forward.
Here’s what the ICC rulebook says when it comes to leg byes:
If a ball delivered by the bowler first strikes the person of the striker, runs shall be scored only if the umpire is satisfied that the striker has
: Either attempted to play the ball with the bat
: Or tried to avoid being hit by the ball.