Cricket: Smoke screens issue: Barrie Fairall on the strange cigarette case

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The Independent Online
THE Australian Cricket Board has come under fire after imposing a pounds 1,000 fine on the Test cricketer Greg Matthews for crushing a cigarette pack in an anti-smoking magazine advertisement.

The all-rounder was photographed flattening a distinctive gold packet of Benson and Hedges, sponsors of the annual World Series Cup one-day matches in Australia.

When launching the Down Under season on Wednesday, ACB's chairman, Alan Crompton, said: 'Good sponsorship is hard to find and we are very grateful for the support of Benson and Hedges.' Oh, dear.

Meanwhile, a government health spokesman hit at ACB hypocrisy in punishing Matthews. 'It is quite ironic,' he said, 'that the ACB has always challenged government reforms as a threat to freedom of speech, but when Matthews exercises his right to free speech they come down on him like a ton of bricks.'

Peter Staples, the Health Minister, said the ACB was 'truly hooked on the dirty dollar of the tobacco industry.' It was in April that he and the Sports Minister, Ros Kelly, announced proposals for a law to ban all tobacco sponsorship at televised sporting and cultural events in Australia within four years.

In defending the decision to withhold 25 per cent of Matthews's contract fee for 1992, Crompton said the ACB's code of conduct stipulated 'that a player shall not denigrate the sponsorship.' Puff on that.

Cowdrey pitches in, page 31