Sponsors put Australian cricket on notice

Australia's major cricket sponsors said yesterday that they were assessing their relationship with the country's favourite pastime as the fallout from a ball-tampering scandal escalates.

The incident, which Australian captain Steve Smith said involved senior players hatching a plan to tamper with the ball during a game against rivals South Africa, also threatens to upset current negotiations over broadcast rights.

Breakfast cereal maker Sanitarium, which counts Smith as a brand ambassador, said it was reviewing its sponsorship pending the outcome of an investigation by governing body Cricket Australia.


"Certainly, it's under review as the actions taken by the team in South Africa don't align with our own values - Sanitarium does not condone cheating in sport," Sanitarium said in a statement.

The sentiment was mirrored by almost all of the sport's commercial partners in Australia, including Qantas, apparel sponsor Asics, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, insurer Bupa,Toyota and brewer Lion.

Like the rest of Australia, we're deeply concerned," Lion said in a statement.

"This is not what you'd expect from anyone in sport at any level."

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia is hoping to share the results of its investigation into the ball-tampering scandal within a few days as it looks to control a story that has plunged the country into turmoil. - REUTERS