After registering at Cricket.com.au, each new member of the Australian Cricket Family
received an email which read:

Demand for
tickets will be high, but with 41 days of exciting international cricket on offer … members of the Australian
Cricket Family are in pole
position…

Would your family or friends like to go to the front of the queue for 3 Mobile Ashes tickets? Invite them to register
atcricket.com.au today!

Of course, it also came with the usual
admonition that nobody was guaranteed a ticket, but it’s hard to misinterpret
terms like “pole position” and “front of the queue”. They both mean nobody will
get tickets ahead of the Family and technically, when tickets went on sale last
Thursday morning, nobody did. The Family had first access to seats – as many as
9,800 of the SCG’s 42,000 seats, for example. The rest had already been locked away
for “corporate clients, assorted classifications of SCG and Aussie Stadium
members and sponsors” according to Will Swanton in yesterday’s Smage.

“Most people who tried on Thursday to get
tickets for the [Sydney] Test via the internet were doomed before they even started,”
Swanton writes, adding one more misery to Cricket Australia
CEO James Sutherland’s impressive collection.

On Friday Sutherland issued an email
apology to the Family for “problems … with the system we used”, which is not
quite an admission of culpability and which predicted the attacks CA has
subsequently launched on everyone within reach, especially eBay,
which has taken a “don’t shoot the messenger” stance.

The most interesting contribution so far
has come from Commonwealth Games ticketing boss Brett Judd, who reached an
agreement with eBay ahead of time not to list inflated Games tickets and whose
ballot system looks, in the Ashes context, like a model of efficiency and
fairness. His one-word review of the CA ticketing plan? “Farcical”.

What about the other partners in the
debacle, the ticket agencies? “Both the … website and phones performed
exceptionally,” says Ticketmaster,
furnishing us with a handy working definition of the word “farcical”.

Peter Fray

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