On eBay at 9am this morning, a
package of four tickets for each of the first three days of the Sydney Ashes
Test, sold for about $570, was going for a little over $20,000, largely due to
the largesse of bidders such as pantherpower777, who outbid him or herself late
last night to drive the price up by $10,000 in 13 minutes without any
competition. (At 10am this morning
pantherpower777’s fake bids were deleted. The tickets are now selling for
$3050, a mere five times the sale price.)

I’d like to think pantherpower777 is
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, sitting at his desk all night searching the net
and madly ramping up the prices of Ashes tickets wherever he finds them.

Those tickets will, it goes without saying,
be cancelled, but only because of the ham-fisted approach of the sellers in
whacking them up on eBay for the world to see. The real problem for Sutherland
is the age-old problem of low-tech scalping: pub-toilet scalping and car park
scalping, where protectors of virtue like pantherpower777 are powerless to
spoil the deal.

And there’s going to be a lot of it. CA and
the relevant ticketing agencies have feigned surprise at yesterday’s ticket
disaster, which was something akin to feeding 128,000 sheep with red cordial
for ten months then asking them all to jump at once through a single gate.

But surely even they will realise that the
main problem arising from masses of disgruntled fans missing out on tickets
will be to drive up the demand for the back-street scalper, especially in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney where the
grounds are small and the marquee days have already sold out.

In Melbourne, Sports Minister Justin Madden
has conceded that Boxing Day Test tickets are not covered by anti-scalping
legislation: “Once the last Test finished in England and
there was the build-up to this one and the realisation of how popular it would
be, it was very difficult to meet the legislative deadlines required,” he said,
which leaves only CA’s ticket purchase terms and conditions protecting the
Ashes market from a scalping free-for-all.