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Shane Warne and Bessie Bardot


Outcry over Betfair cricket ads, by Natasha Robinson- 27th Dec 2008
(Credit: The Australian)

The Nine Network has caused a furore for allowing online betting agency Betfair to advertise during the Boxing Day Test, with campaigners furious that the plugs -- including one by cricket legend Ritchie Benaud -- expose children and teenagers to gambling.

World Vision head Tim Costello and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon said yesterday they were shocked to see Betfair's strong presence on advertising billboards at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Mr Costello, who was at the MCG yesterday, said he was "very worried" about the potential for children who viewed the Betfair advertising to go home and gamble online without their parents' knowledge.

"You've got families and kids here," Mr Costello said. "Of course gambling is part of life, but I think when it's a family cultural event like the Boxing Day Test, the advertising is inappropriate."

He said he was particularly concerned at the way Benaud had quoted Betfair's odds during his commentary, broadcast live around the nation on the Nine Network yesterday morning.

"The truth is we know that gambling addiction breaks up families, causes crime and comes at a huge social cost," Mr Costello said. "When it's a family event like the cricket, when it's being broadcast live and kids are listening to it, it is overstepping the mark. It's inappropriate certainly for kids at a family event."

Senator Xenophon, who was elected as a South Australian senator at the last federal poll largely on an anti-gambling platform, described the online gambling world as the "wild west" and called on the Rudd Government to impose regulations on the broadcasters.

"Online gambling such as Betfair has the potential to deliver the next wave of problem gamblers," he said.

"There's very little regulation in relation to advertising. Gambling advertising ought to carry with it warnings, and we ought to be looking at restrictions similar to those that apply to cigarettes and alcohol."

Senator Xenophon agreed with Mr Costello that the ability for online betting agencies to advertise at the cricket threatened the Boxing Day match's family-friendly status. "It's a shame for the great game of cricket that it's been reduced to just another event to have a punt on," Senator Xenophon said. "It diminishes the great game of cricket."

Nine's publicity officer did not return calls yesterday.

Senator Xenophon said he had concerns that online betting on sporting matches could expose sports to corruption and match-fixing. A spokesman for Betfair last night declined to respond to the criticisms made by Mr Costello and Senator Xenophon, but the agency has strongly argued in the past that it has safeguards in place to guard against corruption, the risk of which is increased because punters have the chance to bet on a team's loss as well as a win.

Betfair tipped off the Australian Football Federation last week that Socceroos Kevin Muscat and Craig Moore, as well as Melbourne Victory midfielder Grant Brebner, had bet on soccer matches, in breach of regulations.

In 2000, South African captain Hansie Cronje was banned from cricket for life after admitting he took bribes from bookmakers to fix games.

And Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were fined by the Australian Cricket Board after being offered inducements to give pitch and weather reports on Australia's tour of Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1994.



Cricket is a bat and ball sport played between two teams, usually of eleven players each. A cricket match is played on a grass field (which is usually roughly oval), in the centre of which is a flat strip of ground 22 yards (20.12 m) long, called a pitch. At each end of the pitch is a set of three parallel wooden stakes (known as stumps) driven into the ground, with two small crosspieces (known as bails) laid on top of them. This wooden structure is called a wicket. A player from the fielding team (the bowler) bowls a hard, fist-sized cork-centred leather ball from one wicket towards the other. The ball usually bounces once before reaching a player from the opposing team (the batsman), who defends the wicket from the ball with a wooden cricket bat. The batsman, if he or she does not get out, may then run between the wickets, exchanging ends with the other batsman (the "non-striker"), who has been standing in an inactive role near the bowler's wicket, to score runs. The other members of the bowler's team stand in various positions around the field as fielders. The match is won by the team that scores more runs.

Cricket has been an established team sport for hundreds of years. It originated in its modern form in England and is popular mainly in the present and former members of the Commonwealth. In the countries of South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, cricket is the most popular sport. It is also a major sport in places such as England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Bermuda, and the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, which are collectively known in cricketing parlance as the West Indies. There are also well established amateur club competitions in countries as diverse as the Netherlands, Kenya, Nepal and Argentina, among others; there are over one hundred cricket-playing nations recognised by the International Cricket Council.

The sport is followed with passion in many different parts of the world. It has even occasionally given rise to diplomatic outrage, the most notorious being the Basil D'Oliveira affair which led to the banning of South Africa from sporting events. Other examples include the Bodyline series, played between England and Australia in the early 1930s, and the 1981 underarm bowling incident involving Australia and New Zealand.

The aim of the batting team is to score as many runs as possible. A run is scored when both batsmen successfully move to their respective opposite ends of the pitch (wicket). (The batsmen will usually only attempt to score runs after the striker has hit the ball, but this is not necessary.) Runs are also scored if the batsman propels the ball to the boundary of the playing area (six runs if the ball reaches the boundary without touching the ground, otherwise four runs), or if the bowler commits some infringement.

The aim of the bowler's team is to get each batsman out (this is a wicket, or a dismissal). Dismissals are achieved in a variety of ways. The most direct way is for the bowler to bowl the ball in such a way that it evades the batsman's guard and hits the stumps, dislodging the bails. While the batsmen are attempting a run, the fielders may attempt to knock the bails off either set of stumps with the ball before the batsman nearer to that set of stumps has reached the crease. Other ways for the fielding side to dismiss a batsman include catching a struck ball before it touches the ground. Once the batsmen are not attempting to score any more runs, the ball is "dead" and is bowled again (each attempt at bowling the ball is a ball or a delivery).

The game is divided into overs of six (legal) balls. At the end of an over, the batting and bowling ends will be swapped, and the bowler replaced by a member of the fielding side. The two umpires also change positions at this time, and sometimes the fielding positions are rearranged.

Once out, a batsman is replaced by the next batsman in the team's lineup. The innings (singular) of the batting team will end when the tenth batsman is given out, since there always must be two batsmen on the field. When this happens, the team is said to be all out. (In limited overs cricket the innings end either when the batting team is all out or the predetermined number of overs are bowled.) At the end of an innings, the two teams exchange roles, the fielding team becoming the batting team and vice versa.

The team that has scored more runs at the end of the completed match wins. Different varieties of the game have different definitions of "completion"; for instance there may be restrictions on the number of overs, the number of innings, and the number of balls in each innings, etc.

Main article: The result in cricket
If the team that bats last has all of its batsmen dismissed before it can reach the run total of the opposing team, it is said to have lost by (n) runs (where (n) is the difference between the two run totals). If however, the team that bats last exceeds the opposing team's run total before its batsmen are dismissed, it is said to have won by (n) wickets, where (n) is the difference between the number of wickets conceded and 10.

If, in a two-innings-a-side match, one team's combined first and second innings total fails to reach its opponent's first innings total, there is no need for the opposing team to bat again and it is said to have won by an innings and (n) runs, where (n) is the difference between the two teams' totals.

If all the batsmen of the team batting last are dismissed with the scores exactly equal then the match is a tie; ties are very rare in matches of two innings a side. In the traditional form of the game, if the time allotted for the match expires before either side can win, then the game is a draw.

If the match has only a single innings per side, then a maximum number of deliveries for each innings is often imposed. Such a match is called a limited overs or one-day match, and the side scoring more runs wins regardless of the number of wickets lost, so that a draw cannot occur. If this kind of match is temporarily interrupted by bad weather, then a complex mathematical formula known as the Duckworth-Lewis method is often used to recalculate a new target score. A one-day match can be declared a No-Result if fewer than a previously agreed number of overs have been bowled by either team, in circumstances that make normal resumption of play impossible - for example, an extended period of bad weather.

Laws of cricket
For more details on this topic, see Laws of cricket.
The game is played in accordance with 42 laws of cricket, which have been developed by the Marylebone Cricket Club in discussion with the main cricketing nations. Teams may agree to alter some of the rules for particular games. Other rules supplement the main laws and change them to deal with different circumstances. In particular, there are a number of modifications to the playing structure and fielding position rules that apply to one innings games that are restricted to a set number of fair deliveries.

Players and officials

For more details on this topic, see Cricketer.
A team consists of eleven players. Depending on his or her primary skills, a player may be classified as a specialist batsman or bowler. A balanced team usually has five or six specialist batsmen and four or five specialist bowlers. Teams nearly always include a specialist wicket-keeper because of the importance of this fielding position. Of late, the role of specialist fielder has also become important in a team. Each team is headed by a Captain who is responsible of taking the major decisions in the field.

A player who excels in both batting and bowling is known as an all-rounder. One who excels as a batsman and wicket-keeper is known as a wicket-keeper/batsman, sometimes regarded as a type of all-rounder. True all-rounders are rare and valuable players; most players focus on either their batting or their bowling.

For more details on this topic, see Umpire (cricket).
Two on-field umpires preside over a match. One umpire (the field umpire) will stand behind the wicket at the end from which the ball is bowled, and adjudicate on most decisions. The other (the square leg umpire) will stand near the fielding position called square leg, which offers a side view of the batsman, and assist on decisions for which he or she has a better view. In some professional matches, they may refer a decision to an off-field third umpire, who has the assistance of television replays. In international matches an off-field match referee ensures that play is within the laws of cricket and the spirit of the game.

For more details on this topic, see Scorer.
Two scorers are appointed, and most often one scorer is provided by each team. The laws of cricket specify that the official scorers are to record all runs scored, wickets taken and (where appropriate) overs bowled. They are to acknowledge signals from the umpire, and to check the accuracy of the score regularly both with each other and, at playing intervals, with the umpires. In practice scorers also keep track of other matters, such as bowlers' analyses, the rate at which the teams bowl their overs, and team statistics such as averages and records. In international and national cricket competitions, the media often require notification of records and statistics, so unofficial scorers often keep tally for broadcast commentators and newspaper journalists. The official scorers occasionally make mistakes, but unlike umpires' mistakes these can be corrected after the event.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground during the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
The playing field
For more details on this topic, see Cricket field.
The cricket field consists of a large circular or oval-shaped grassy ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter usually varies between 450 feet (137 m) to 500 feet (150 m). On most grounds, a rope demarcates the perimeter of the field and is known as the boundary. (Credit: Wikipedia)

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