Sport

Cricket Australia confirms 'pitchsiders' have been evicted from Big Bash matches this summer

So-called "pitchsiders" are continuing to infiltrate Big Bash matches by sneaking laptops and mobile phones into grounds, while it has emerged a number of spectators have been evicted this summer for partaking in an activity cricket authorities are intent on stamping out of the game. 

Security and anti-corruption officials are remaining vigilant as Cricket Australia confirmed on Monday it was aware of a number of incidents over the past few weeks involving spectators being tossed out of Big Bash matches for partaking in suspicious activity. 

While Cricket Australia refused to elaborate on specific details because the evictions were "operational matters", Fairfax Media understands a number of spectators who made their way down to the MCG on Thursday for the Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat match were evicted for using laptops and other devices while sitting in the crowd. 

It is believed even more spectators at the same match were approached by security for using mobile phones to relay information about match conditions and up-to-the-second information about the game at hand. While it appears the issue is not confined to one state in particular, the spectators were evicted from Big Bash matches because they breached various terms and conditions of entry enforced at different grounds around the country. 

It is unclear whether the spectators who were asked to leave have been handed bans or move-on notices. Security at the ground passes on information about the incident to police, who then deal appropriately with the offenders and determine a punishment, should one be necessary.  

Pitchsiding is not a new phenomenon. It involves a spectator using an electronic device to bet — or relay information — to someone who places a live in-play bet which takes advantage of the slight time difference in overseas broadcasts to potentially gain an advantage over bookmakers before odds are changed. Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit have worked tirelessly in recent years to stamp out the activity; while not illegal in NSW, is not a good look for a sport trying to distance itself from the shady underworld of match-fixing.

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In Victoria, however, pitchsiding is now a criminal offence after laws passed in 2013 target individuals who try to corrupt a betting outcome. There is an argument, however, that such a practice should be allowed because it exposes a loophole seized upon byindividuals who are understood to be proficient mathematicians. 

"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." 

In 2013 Cricket Australia hired an external bet monitoring company, Sportsradar, to provide intelligence on the nature and volume of betting on domestic matches.

CA has an in-house integrity analyst to assess betting trends as well as relationships with a number of official betting partners that assist in the ongoing integrity management of all competitions, by agreeing to information sharing and other integrity requirements.

The most high-profile case of pitchsiding in Australia occurred when Rajiv Mulchandani, a British national, was evicted from the SCG 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. 

He was charged with trespass offences after it became clear he had re-entered ANZ Stadium after being banned from the venue.

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