Emily Smith, a professional cricket player for the Hobart Hurricanes in Australia, posted the lineup for her team’s match with the Sydney Thunder on her Instagram account on Nov. 2. Unfortunately, the posting came an hour before the official time that lineups are announced. For this violation, Smith was penalized on Monday.
She was suspended for three months.
This seemingly draconian penalty is explained by concerns about betting. Cricket has been in the vanguard of sports betting, with bookmakers offering odds on all facets of the game; who will be in the lineup could be one such proposition. Players of daily fantasy games also can gain great benefit from knowing which players will play.
The rule book forbids: “disclosing inside information to any person, with or without reward, where the participant knew or might reasonably have known that such disclosure might lead to the information being used in relation to betting.”
The harshness of the ruling was puzzling to some because Smith’s post could have been considered good publicity for the women’s Big Bash League, the top competition in Australia for the short Twenty20 form of cricket. The women’s league has struggled to match the popularity of the men’s league. The 2019 final drew 5,000 fans, for example, while the men’s final drew 40,000.
Others pointed out that James Pattinson, a male Australian player, was suspended on Sunday for only one game for “using obscene or abusive language” in a match — widely reported to be a homophobic slur.
Smith was actually formally barred for a full year, but nine months of the penalty were suspended. In 2016, two female players were barred for six months for betting on men’s games.
Alistair Nicholson, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, said Smith’s post was a joke about her place in the batting order. “This is a case of an attempt at humor gone wrong,” he told The Age newspaper.
“Whilst Cricket Australia acknowledges that at the time of posting the team lineup there was no intent to breach the Anti-Corruption Code,” said Sean Carroll, Cricket Australia’s head of integrity and security, “there is no excuse for breaches, regardless of the reasons for information being disclosed.”
Smith will now miss the rest of the Big Bash League and the Women’s National Cricket League, a competition in a longer form of the sport.
And after everything else, the match that Smith improperly posted about was rained out.