October 29, 2010

Ashes 2010-11

Big Ben rings with legal threat after Ashes stunt

Peter English
The Ashes build-up comes to Big Ben, London, October 28, 2010
 © Cricket Australia
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Friendly banter from Australians is often misinterpreted overseas and the pre-Ashes stunt to beam images of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke on London’s Big Ben could lead to legal action. “Don’t forget to pack the urn,” was the message from Ponting and Clarke to England’s departing players from the top of the clock.

But the marketing exercise has upset Westminster city council’s deputy leader Robert Davis, who said the act was a criminal offence. James Sutherland, Cricket Australia’s chief executive, dismissed the threat of legal action, calling the streaming “a little bit of friendly banter between Australia and England”.

“It’s reciprocating what happened a couple of years ago when England shone something on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s just harmless fun and I hope nobody takes it too seriously.” Last year Richard Branson’s image was projected on to the landmark with him saying, “Good luck, Ricky, you’ll need it.”

Davis said the Palace of Westminster was part of a Unesco world heritage site. “It's both inappropriate and insulting for this important location and its buildings to effectively be abused in this manner,” he told the Guardian. In the event of a conviction, the fine is £2500. Given the strength of the Australian dollar, it’s now spare change.

Peter English is former Australasia editor of ESPNcricinfo

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