Texture stretching when applied to sphere

I am completely new to this so I expect I may be doing something trivial incorrectly. I have a regular sphere in my scene and I have a .jpeg image with a number in various places and orientations. When I apply the image to the sphere as a texture, the numbers centrally located in the image display fine on the sphere, but those closer to the top or the bottom of the image file appear warped on the sphere. For e.g with the number 12, the base of the 1 and 2 are bigger and the number tapers the further up you go when rendered on the sphere.

I appreciate any assistance.

This is just how the UV map of this particular mesh is set up. If you want the texture to be mapped differently, then you have to use your 3D modelling application to edit the UV map.