Vol­umegate, cry Eng­land

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - KEVIN McCALLUM

GRAEME SMITH doesn’t think he hit it. Eng­land are con­vinced he did. Re­plays sug­gest he did. The third um­pire didn’t hear it. Wel­come to “Vol­umegate”. Sadly, on a day when Smith hit one his most im­por­tant cen­turies for his coun­try, Eng­land, who be­gan this se­ries not con­vinced of the use­ful­ness of tech­nol­ogy, were left wail­ing last night af­ter they per­ceived them­selves to have been done a griev­ous in­jus­tice.

Af­ter Smith’s 20th Test cen­tury had all but de­ter­mined there would be only one win­ner in this match, Eng­land were be­moan­ing “Vol­umegate”.

It was learned that third um­pire Daryl Harper had, al­legedly, not turned up the vol­ume on his TV to ad­judge whether Smith had got a nick off Ryan Side­bot­tom in the 16th over of the match yes­ter­day morn­ing.

A sound could be heard on re­plays of Smith’s at­tempted wild cut at a wide Side­bot­tom de­liv­ery.

How­ever, Tony Hill, the on­field um­pire, ruled him not out, and af­ter Eng­land had asked for a re­play, Harper agreed.

Ap­par­ently Harper did not hear the nick, and the blame was passed from the host broad­caster to the ICC then back and back again, un­til Eng­land’s team di­rec­tor Andy Flower all but ac­cused the ICC of in­com­pe­tence.

“It doesn’t re­flect well on the ICC, to be hon­est,” said Flower. “I’ve seen (match ref­eree Roshan Ma­hanama) a cou­ple of times to­day. I asked about the process he went through to make the de­ci­sion. He ex­plained that the match ref­eree gets a dif­fer­ent au­dio feed to the one Su­perS­port and Sky get. On sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, by us, we found that was not cor­rect. They get one au­dio feed, which is used by every­one.

“I went and saw him again and he said Daryl Harper did- n’t turn up the sound, which is why we’ve heard the nick, but the third um­pire hasn’t.”

Flower said an of­fi­cial com­plaint had been laid.

“If it wasn’t such a se­ri­ous match for us I would have found that quite amus­ing, but I didn’t. The words he used were ‘they hadn’t deemed it nec­es­sary to turn it up’.”

Smith, who had gone on to score 105 be­fore fi­nally get­ting out, much to the re­lief of Eng­land, who had leaked 131 runs in the ex­tended ses­sion be­fore lunch, said he be­lieved he had not touched the ball.

As Eng­land ap­pealed and cel­e­brated vo­cif­er­ously, Smith did not look back for an in­stant.

“Look, there def­i­nitely was a noise,” said Smith, who was on 15 at the time, “but it didn’t feel like I hit the ball.

“Even when I was speak­ing to Ash­well when the re­view was go­ing on I didn’t feel like it had hit the bat. It can hap­pen, maybe I didn’t, maybe I didn’t. I thought it was my thumb on the han­dle, there def­i­nitely was noise on the re­play. There’s no deny­ing that.”

Asked whether he would have been dis­ap­pointed had he been on the re­ceiv­ing end of the de­ci­sion, Smith played a dead bat.

“It’s not my job to dis­cuss what the third um­pire saw. We all knew what tech­nol­ogy was avail­able, it was ex­plained to us openly and hon­estly be­fore the se­ries stared.

“So, to be cry­ing over spilt milk now isn’t right. It shouldn’t be an is­sue. I’ve come here to talk about a 100 and not Daryl Harper, so let’s move on.”

It was, the con­tro­versy aside, a tremendous knock by Smith, who said it was pretty mean­ing­ful to him.

“We played good cricket and to­day was dif­fi­cult. You have to knock the ball around and know­ing that ev­ery ball might have your name on it,” said Smith. “I’m very proud of what I have achieved to­day and what the team have achieved to­day.”

Yes­ter­day, much to Eng­land’s dis­may he did just that.

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