Howzat?

The launch of World Series Cricket

The summer holidays mean one thing for many Australians: cricket. Heading to a day-night match and watching the brightly coloured teams smacking the ball into the crowd is what we've come to expect. But, it wasn't always like this and Allens played a big part in transforming the game of cricket into what it is today.

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When colour television arrived in Australia in 1975, the small screen came alive. At that time, TCN-9 (Channel Nine) was led by Kerry Packer. Inspired by sports broadcasts in the United States, Packer saw the potential for broadcasting cricket on colour television. In 1976 he approached the Australian Cricket Board with an offer to televise the 1977–1978 cricket season, famously using the line, 'There is a little bit of the whore in all of us, gentlemen. What is your price?' Despite offering $1.5 million – seven times the value of the existing contract with the Australian Broadcasting Commission – the Cricket Board rejected his offer. 

Packer was incensed and decided that if the Australian Cricket Board wouldn't let him play he would beat them at their own game. In the 1970s, tennis and golf players were generously rewarded for their efforts, while most cricketers earned barely enough to live on. It did not take much for Packer to convince the best players to join his teams. In secret, Packer signed up players from around the globe and established his own cricket competition – World Series Cricket, dividing the international cricketing community and upending the economics and culture of the game. Allens was kept busy finalising agreements with the players.

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By the time World Series Cricket was launched, thirty-five leading international players had signed contracts. Allens assisted with the execution of the agreements and advised Packer during the legal battles that followed. The biggest of these took place in the High Court in London when the International Cricket Council tried to prevent World Series Cricket players from participating in first-class cricket matches. Justice Christopher Slade ruled in favour of Packer, holding that the International Cricket Council's ban amounted to an unreasonable restraint of trade. By imposing the ban, they had in essence induced players to breach their contract with World Series Cricket.

The new format of cricket was different to anything seen before. To make the most of colour TV the players were given brightly coloured uniforms and, for the first time, women were welcomed into the Members' Stand. It took a while to take off but when Packer made the bold decision to play cricket at night under high-intensity floodlights the stands were packed.

Packer had brought fresh colour and life to the game and, after just two seasons, the Australian Cricket Board gave Packer his much sought-after broadcasting rights and a contract to market and promote cricket in Australia. The changes he made, with Allens' help, are still evident in the game today.

CREDITS
IMAGE 1: John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images
IMAGE 2: Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images

A glimpse into our history

The launch of World Series Cricket

The summer holidays mean one thing for many Australians: cricket. Heading to a day-night match and watching the brightly coloured teams smacking the ball into the crowd is what we've come to expect. But, it wasn't always like this and Allens played a big part in transforming the game of cricket into what it is today.

The book that changed Australia

Today we take for granted our ability to read any book we choose, but it wasn't long ago that Australia had some of the most severe censorship regulations in the Western world. Allens played a pivotal role in changing this and bringing an end to literary censorship in Australia.

Upholding the right to vote

In 2006, the Howard Government introduced significant changes to Australia's voting laws through the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006 (Cth). Among the changes contained in the legislation was the denial of voting rights to all people in prison.

Hard to find – but worth the hunt

One of the frustrations of historical research is knowing something exists but being unable to locate it. That was the case with letters from Allen Allen & Hemsley to client Angus & Robertson. The letters related to the copyright of several works by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson, including The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses.

Lawyers draft wills better than authors

When legal practices were first established in Australia, a significant portion of their work involved the management of complex wills and estates. However, over time, the founding firms of Allens shifted their focus from managing family estates and trusts to become predominantly commercial practices. This is the story of the firm's involvement in celebrated author Nevil Shute's will.

Hidden treasures

Research for the Allens history book has turned up a variety of interesting items, among them a hand-drawn map of Brisbane from 1849 and a mallet used by founder George Allen in 1859 to lay the foundation stone for a new chapel in Newtown, Sydney.

First true civil libel case in Australia

In 1817, 16-year-old George Allen was just a few months into his legal training when he found himself amidst one of the most interesting legal cases in the colony of New South Wales. George had just entered his articles of clerkship with Frederick Garling when Garling was appointed to represent defendant John Thomas Campbell in the first true civil libel case in Australia.

Helping Bush Heritage preserve precious land

Since 1995, Allens has committed thousands of hours of expertise to helping Bush Heritage with its vision of healthy Country, protected forever. This includes 14ha of land in the Liffey Valley of Tasmania, which former Australian Senator Bob Brown gifted to the organisation in 2011 with support from Allens.

Seeking justice for the Stolen Generation

Right from the start, almost 200 years ago, Allens has shown support for Australia's Indigenous communities and, in 1996, we helped pave the way towards the National Apology through our involvement in the first Stolen Generation legal trials.

Supporting critical Australian infrastructure

17 October 1949 marked the official start of what is still considered one of the largest and most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken in Australia – the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

It all started in 1822

Allens was founded on 22 July 1822, the day 21-year-old George Allen was admitted as an attorney and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and became the first person to complete their full legal training in Australia. When he began his small legal practice in a cottage on Elizabeth Street in Sydney, he could not have foreseen the story that would follow.