While a lot of people will be celebrating Valentine’s Day there will be many men and women seeing in the 14th February in front of televisions, tablets, phones and computers watching on as England take on Australia in both sides’ opening game of the Cricket World Cup which this year will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Preparation for the tournament has been ongoing for the past four years which will have involved a huge number of sports lawyers working to ensure every legal avenue has been covered. For the lawyers at the tournament they will unfortunately not be able to sit back and watch as England put out some resurgent performances to ultimately go on and defeat their Australian counterparts in the final to be crowned champions. Instead these lawyers will be continuing to work on a variety of issues that could arise while the tournament is being played. This article will seek to examine the potential legal issues for the Cricket World Cup.
Pitchsiding is very much a 21st century problem and perhaps doesn’t get the attention that match-fixing does. Individuals will sit in the stands of a game and take advantage of the delay between the live action and television broadcasts. Using this delay, which can be as much as 12 seconds, the individual passes on the information to other parties who are typically illegal bookmakers. This practice has become a real issue mainly in part to the increasing capabilities of technology available in the market. Use of ear-pieces amongst those involved in pitch-siding is widespread and even tournaments like T20 Finals Day have been prone to pitchsiding. Access to the internet now doesn’t have to necessarily come through Wi-Fi and instead individuals can use their cellular data to reach online services. Getting in contact with another individual who could potentially be the other side of the world is now instantaneous. Previous incarnations of the pitchsiding practice would see individuals using laptops which are fairly easy to spot in the vast majority of cases however the widespread and constant use of mobile phones means authorities may have a hard-time picking out who is pitchsiding and who is simply just updating their Facebook status.
Cricket Australia are exceptionally keen to prevent this practice going on at the World Cup and have taken assertive action against anyone doing so in the build up to the tournament. A British man was arrested by Sydney police during a Big Bash League game between Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat for pitchsiding activities. The man thrown out of this game was a prolific offender and had been pitchsiding as recently as the Sunday before and had also been caught twice during the previous season. There is a real lack of a deterrent for those involved in pitchsiding who seem to receive nothing more than a warning and a banning order from the specific stadium. Jake Williams, an Australian sports lawyer, suggests that unique legislation specific to this type of problem is needed. As he points out it’s a new age crime using old laws which are simply not suitable for the situation. This lack of proper legislation has resulted in governing bodies like Cricket Australia desperately trying to plug the gaps where the legal system hasn’t caught up. Modernisation is needed and it’s needed fast.
Arguably the biggest problem in cricket currently is match and spot fixing. Cricket Australia deemed it such a high priority that they held an amnesty period during 2014 for players to come forward to report any information on the issue. This was no doubt a move made by the Australian authorities to compile intelligence on anyone they need to be aware of during the tournament. The move also allowed for greater confidence amongst players and officials to report activity thanks to the anonymous hotline that was established.
The New Zealand government bolstered their legislative force at the end of 2014 in preparation for the tournament. Guilty parties of match-fixing could potentially face up to seven years in prison. Earlier that year a match-fixing policy was released by the government in which sports governing bodies had to comply with. This policy included mandatory education, support mechanisms and detailed rules and examples of match-fixing. New Zealand’s tough stance on these matters will have no doubt been influenced by former New Zealand test batsman Lou Vincent being receiving a life ban for his role in a match-fixing scandal which spread across 12 countries.
How match-fixing is combatted during this tournament will come squarely down to the efficiency of cricket’s governing bodies and authorities such as the police. Agreements have been put in place for the ICC and both the Australian and New Zealand police to share information which could be important in stemming criminals before they strike upon players and officials. It is an issue that has plagued cricket since the turn of the century and all parties will hope that integrity can prevail in a tough number of years which has seen widespread fixing in great cricketing nations like Pakistan and India.
Sledging has long been a tradition in cricket which has fuelled great rivalries and added some spice to the sport. There is however a line and it can overspill into unsavoury scenes. England’s Jimmy Anderson and India’s Ravindra Jadeja incident during the summer cased hysteria in the media at the time. The two players were involved in a verbal altercation as they walked off the field for lunch and continued into the dressing rooms where Anderson was accused of abusing and pushing Jadeja. Both were originally punished for their involvement in the incident however a disciplinary procedure ultimately found both parties not guilty.
The need for disciplinary procedures to be functioning and efficient is paramount at this tournament. Players and officials who are involved in incidents will want appeal processes to be done in a timely manner as having a player unavailable could hamper the side’s chances of winning. With such a high turnover of games in a short space of time having disciplinary procedures that are fair but efficient will be on the minds of the governing bodies and the lawyers involved in them.
- Jakes Williams’ views on pitchsiding
- New Zealand policy on sports match-fixing and related corruption – Sport New Zealand
- How the IC are tackling illegal gambling for the Cricket World Cup 2015 – LawInSport
- Pitch-siding, sniping and anti-corruption – LegSideLizzy
- James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja not guilty of ICC breach – BBC Sport
 Crimes (Match-fixing) Amendment Bill 2014 (203-2)