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Betting scandal in Big Bash League gets spectators evicted

839   //    18 Jan 2016, 17:33 IST
Spectators enjoy a Big Bash clash

Big Bash matches in Australia haven’t been absolutely free of ‘external influence’. So called ‘pitchsiders’ have been confirmed to be infiltrating the match grounds by sneaking mobile phones and laptops into the stadiums.

A number of spectators have been evicted this season by security and anti-corruption officials. Cricket Australia confirmed that a number of spectators have been tossed out of the Big Bash matches for partaking in ‘suspicious activity’. It was reported that a number of spectators were evicted from the MCG on Thursday during a match between Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat.

The exact figure of the number of spectators evicted from the stadiums is not revealed by the Australian cricket board since it fell under ‘operational matters’.

"Australian cricket has a long-standing, proactive approach to sports integrity management," a Cricket Australia spokesperson said. "While betting on sport is not new to our community, the increase in its popularity in recent years has seen us take significant steps to ensure we safeguard the integrity of our competitions." 

If there is a suspicious activity noted in the stadium, the procedure is that ground staff of security would inform the police. It is then up to the police to decide an appropriate punishment, should one be necessary.

Pitchsiding involves passing information of the game through electronic devices to a person who places a live-in play bet. This system is pretty popular since one can gain some advantage due to the time difference in broadcasting an overseas event and the live game. While pitchsiding is not illegal in New South Wales, this is harmful to the game.

Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit have worked tirelessly in recent years to stamp out the involvement of the shady underworld of match fixing in cricket.

Pitchsiding is understood to be a loophole seized upon by proficient mathematicians. This form of betting does not affect the outcome of the games unlike spot-fixing. There is a big discussion about whether pitchsiding should be legalised. However, pitchsiding is considered an offence by the International Cricket Council. It is also illegal in several Australian states such as Victoria.

The most high-profile case of pitchsiding in Australia occurred when Rajiv Mulchandani, a British national, was evicted from the Sydney Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium in December 2014 after police caught him live-betting on his laptop behind the bowler's arm during a game between the Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat. 

Mulchandani was banned from entering the ANZ stadium after the incident. However, investigations revealed that he had entered the stadium again.

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