Steve Smith engaged in a heated exchange with on-field umpire Nigel Llong for making a controversial call during the first session on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday. After opting to bowl, New Zealand claimed early wickets of Joe Burns and David Warner to spoil Australia’s start in the second Test of the three-match series. Former Australia captain Steve Smith then stitched a crucial third-wicket partnership with Marnus Labuschagne to help Australia reach 67/2 in 26 overs at lunch. However, Steve Smith did not hesitate to express his anger over a controversial call made by umpire Nigel Llong in the final over before lunch.
On the last ball of the 26th over by Neil Wagner, a short-pitched delivery hit Steve Smith on his ribs. Smith did not attempt any shot but tried to steal a single, thinking of it as a ‘leg-bye’ opportunity. However, umpire Llong called it a ‘dead ball’ and asked the Australian batsman to stay at his end.
At the end of the first session, Smith got involved in an on-field spat with umpire Llong before leaving for the lunch break fuming in disbelief.
The video of Smith’s duel with umpire went viral on Internet.
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Former Australia spinner Shane Warne came in support of Smith, calling Llong’s decision “wrong”.
“Well the umpire’s wrong. Steve Smith has every right to be angry because the interpretation Nigel Llong is giving at the minute is incorrect,” Warne said on Fox Cricket.
“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,” he explained further.
“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,” Warne added.
Australia won the first Test in Perth by 296 runs and will look to clinch the three-Test series in Melbourne with a match to spare. The third and final Test will be played in Sydney from January 3 to 7, 2020.