Cricket Australia battles scalpers

Cricket Australia Chief James Sutherland has expressed his frustration at scalpers looking to profit from genuine cricket fans in the lead up to the 2006-2007 Ashes series.

But ticket scalping aside, Sutherland is delighted with the way ticket sales have progressed and was impressed with the 300,000 tickets sold in two days.

"This is absolutely unprecedented in terms of Australian sport - this sort of response to a sporting event - and that is a fantastic thing for test cricket, a fantastic thing for cricket" he said.

Sutherland apologised to cricket fans who missed out on tickets, but reassured them that there are still a few test match tickets, especially for the Melbourne test, and plenty of one-day tickets for sale.

While the scalping of Ashes tickets, especially on eBay, has turned into one of the hottest issues of the week, Sutherland put the issue into perspective.

"In the context of 300,000 tickets being sold, it is basically a grain of sand on the beach."

"Tickets sold by scalpers are really an insult to Australian cricket fan," he said.

"We have people who have bought these tickets with a view of exploiting the publics' passion for the game of cricket and I think that is very disappointing and we have significant concerns about that," he said.

CA is looking at different methods of penalising scalpers and those who have bought tickets from unauthorised sellers.

They have been speaking to sporting bodies in Australia and overseas about how they will deal with the issue.

They are also considering hiring private investigators to look into the issue after the Australian Rugby Union took the same action to stop scalpers profiteering from the Bledisloe Cup.

The biggest concern for the cricketing body remains ticket sales on eBay.

Despite talks between CA and the online auctioneers regarding eBay's agreement to cooperate and not sell scalped tickets - tickets continue to be advertised on the site at hundreds of dollars above their recommended retail price.

"If you want to make it really simple, the best way of dealing with it is for eBay to take the tickets off their website and not sell them," Sutherland said.

"When the dust settles we are going to have a really good look (at scalping) and make sure that the next time tickets go on sale that we do it even better than we have done it this time."

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