Volumegate, cry England
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.