Pat Cummins takes T20 World Cup hat-trick and no one saw it. This is why our anti-siphoning laws need updating

Headshot of Jackson Barrett
Jackson BarrettThe Nightly
VideoThe star bowler shone before David Warner took over with the bat against Bangladesh.

A hat-trick, by an Australian, at a cricket World Cup. It’s as rare as a David Warner mea culpa.

And it’s almost as rare as the number of people that got to watch Pat Cummins tear through Bangladesh in Australia’s crucial Twenty20 World Cup match as it happened this morning. The tournament is all happening under the cover of pay TV, robbing Australians of the chance to watch their cricket heroes in global competition.

This edition of the World Cup is being streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime. You won’t find it on your television, you won’t find it free to watch online and you won’t find it down at the local or on the screen at the footy club.

Cummins’ hat-trick will finish as one of the great Australian sporting moments this year and the team are the favourites to charge towards a World Cup triumph. Yet it is hardly anywhere to be seen.

The big quick had Mahmadullah chop a ball on to his stumps, Mehdi Hasan caught on the boundary and then, with the first ball of his next over, and Towhid Hridoy — who loomed as Bangladesh’s danger man — to seal his hat-trick.

Despite 53 per cent of Aussies watching TV through on-demand apps such as 7plus, 10Play or Foxtel, proposed new legislation would mean free sport is only guaranteed on free-to-air aerial channels. Less than a third of Australians solely watch free-to-air. Watching live sport on TV in Australia has become a juggling act and a hit to the hip pocket.

World cups once had fans gathering at mates’ homes, with family, at clubs or in pubs to watch.

These new laws would rob us of scenes such as a packed Federation Square for the Socceroos’ run through the FIFA World Cup or fans packing out stadiums to watch the Matildas on giant screens.

In fact, the remarkable revolution of the Matildas wouldn’t have happened at all if it was locked behind a streaming service’s paywall.

Domestic competitions such as Super Rugby and the A-League are already on a steep slide and battling to stay relevant after committing themselves to the sugar hit streaming services can provide governing bodies.

Anti-siphoning laws are in place to protect our national sports and events. But like our sports have, they need to move with the times and reflect the nation’s consumption habits.

People hoping to watch the tournament on Amazon Prime are largely the same ones that have already forked out for Kayo to watch their favourite football team every week, or Stan or Paramount to watch rugby and other football codes. For many, it’s a bridge too far.

Cummins’ hat-trick and whatever this World Cup brings Australian cricket should go down in sporting folklore. Unfortunately, it just won’t be that way — because not enough people are able to tell the tale.

The team he spearheads would be doing the nation proud, if the bulk of the public were able to watch it.

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