Boxing Day Test
Boxing Day Test

Smith fights the law over Kiwi bodyline tactics

Update: Steve Smith hosed down his lunchtime confrontation with umpire Nigel Llong and said he would back the dead-ball rulings that cost Australia two runs on Thursday.

The Herald Sun understands that match referee Richie Richardson won't slap Smith with a second code of conduct breach in as many months for the exchange, while Shane Warne declared that Llong needed a fresh copy of the rule book.


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Smith wore two Neil Wagner short balls to the body in the final over of the first session on Boxing Day.

As each ball trickled behind the stumps, Smith took off for a leg bye to get off strike -- only to be ordered back by Llong.

The rule book states: "If a ball delivered by the bowler 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".

While Smith did not attempt to play a cricket shot, he argued that he was taking action to evade the balls.

"I was just asking the question," Smith said.

"I don't think I'm as mad as (Matthew) Wadey is … I was trying to get out of the way of them.

"It's his interpretation and I've got to back that. I'll just keep playing, I don't want to get stuck into anything.

"His interpretation and fair enough, move on."


Steve Smith and umpire Nigel Long have a very public difference of opinion at the MCG.
Steve Smith and umpire Nigel Long have a very public difference of opinion at the MCG.


Smith - who plays with his heart on his sleeve - argued with Llong as they walked off the MCG for the lunch break.

The brilliant batsman marched over to Llong at the end of Wagner's over, demanding to know why the deliveries were deemed dead balls.

Smith then appeared to walk away from the conversation in disgust, while Llong was still speaking to him.

Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket that Smith was bracing for impact - and not trying to avoid the balls.

Smith was fined 25 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent after he was dubiously given out caught behind in a Sheffield Shield match in November.

Marnus Labuschagne spent Christmas evening playing the children's board game 'Test Match Cricket' as Steve Smith's practical joke backfired. Smith purchased the game, which is targeted at kids as young as six, hoping to get a reaction out of fellow cricket nuffie Labuschagne.



Instead, the No.3 batsman loved his 'Secret Santa' present.

"It's Secret Santa, I'm not supposed to share that. I thought it would be a nice, little joke to get Marnus 'Test Match Cricket', the board game," Smith said.

"But he loves it. I thought he was going to crack it and be like, 'What are you doing?'

"I think he was playing it (Christmas) night with a few of his friends (laughing) so yeah, he loves it. I might give it a go at some point."


Tim Paine losing the toss at the MCG was a blessing in disguise.
Tim Paine losing the toss at the MCG was a blessing in disguise.


Kane Williamson's correct call of 'tails' at Thursday's coin toss saved Tim Paine from breaking a promise he made just four Tests ago.

The Australian captain won the toss at The Oval in this year's final Ashes Test and chose to bowl, immediately handing England the advantage.

The blunder eventually denied the Aussies a series victory - England squared the ledger at 2-2 - and Paine vowed to never, ever deny his batsmen first crack again.

But the Herald Sun understands that Paine told his teammates before Thursday's toss that he would bowl first, although laced that decision with: "But it wouldn't be a bad pitch to bat on".

Thankfully for Paine, Williamson called correctly and sent the Aussies in.

Grey skies and cloud cover, combined with the fact that MCG pitches rarely break up late in matches, had both skippers on the same page.

When Trent Boult rattled Joe Burns' middle stump in the first over it looked a shrewd call. It was Burns' fifth Test duck, and his first golden one.

But, as was often the case in England, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne quickly embarked on a rescue mission.


Australia captain Tim Paine had to invent a cover story after breaking his nose playing AFL.
Australia captain Tim Paine had to invent a cover story after breaking his nose playing AFL.


Australian captain Tim Paine lied about a broken nose to cover for a group of teammates who secretly joined an Aussie rules team many years ago.

Fast bowler Doug Bollinger played in the ruck for Griffith Gladiators - a university footy team in Brisbane - when the stars of summer were enrolled at the Cricket Academy.

"(We) won six straight, but my career lasted one quarter," Paine told The Australian's Pete Lalor on SEN.

"I kicked 3.2 in the first quarter and about 10 seconds into the second quarter someone tackled Dougy Bollinger and flung him backwards, and his head hit me right on my nose and basically broke my nose.

"We had to make up a story that we were basically having a kick-to-kick on the weekend and I copped one.

"I had to go in on the Monday and have surgery to get my nose fixed, had a couple of weeks off."

After each match the cricketers, who were living on campus with the students, would do their recovery stretches in someone's room while draining a slab of VB.

The injury list slowly grew as future Test players including Adam Voges, George Bailey and Jason Krezja missed the odd cricket session due to corked muscles and sore necks.

But Paine said: "We managed to keep it a secret for many, many years".




The MCG's bizarre $9913.20 penalty for spectators who run on the field can finally be explained.

The fine is apparently based on penalty units, which are determined by the government, and they are added up to that very specific amount.

Kudos to the MCG scoreboard operator yesterday, who also wished fans a Happy Chanukah. The message explained that 'Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, calls on us to illuminate our world with goodness, because even a small light can dispel much darkness'.


Speaking of the crowd, yesterday's monster attendance of 80,473 was the highest non-Ashes day one crowd since 1975. The Boundary Social area, which has replaced the traditionally boisterous Bay 13, has further reduced capacity, meaning there were only around 10,000 spare seats yesterday. Sorry, Perth, it's time for Cricket Australia to ink a new contract - Boxing Day belongs at the 'G.



David Warner is on his way to becoming Neil Wagner's bunny.

It's not at Ashes dominator Stuart Broad levels yet, but Wagner's career figures of 3/10 (30 balls) when bowling at Warner would be alarming for the blistering opener.

The fiery Kiwi, who bowls with a ton of heart, has struck in each of the three Tests they have played against each other, after a brilliant slips catch by Tim Southee improved that record on Boxing Day.

Warner recently revealed the use of data to determine match-ups had spread to Test cricket and the Black Caps now look certain to keep using Wagner when Warner settles at the crease. "I like that match-up scenario, and that now is going into all three forms, I don't think it's just Twenty20 cricket," Warner said last month.

"I do think it's marrying up into Test cricket now specifically." Wagner proved popular with the MCG crowd yesterday when he ran 20m to pick up a beach ball and returned it to the fans, rather than the lurking security officer.