A little over four months after Australia won the World Cup for a record fifth time, an Australian Cricket Census, released on Tuesday, has revealed that a record 1.2 million Australians participated in cricket in the past year, which according to research makes it the country’s highest participation sport.
Australia, who won the World Cup for a record fifth time in March this year, are ranked number one in the ICC ODI table. They rank second in Tests.
The census, independently conducted by specialist researcher Street Ryan which also undertakes research for other major participation sports, including Rugby League and Australian Rules Football, confirms that cricket participation increased by nine per cent since the last round of research in June 2014.
Female, schools and junior programs experienced the highest rates of growth throughout the year. For the second consecutive year, the growth of female participation increased significantly, growing by 18 per cent year on year to reach 290,566 participants. Nearly one in four of cricket’s participants are now female.
Australian Cricket also reached new levels in Indigenous and multicultural participation, which reached 26,427 and 146,658 participants, respectively.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the results demonstrate that cricket is a sport of choice across Australia and the approach to attracting, developing and keeping people in the game is continuing to improve. “We are very pleased with the nine per cent overall increase, to a total of 1.2 million Australians who are now playing cricket.
“Among other things, cricket plays an important role in helping men, women and children from all different backgrounds to lead healthy, active lifestyles.
“Numbers indicate growth in traditional club cricket participation numbers. This is particularly pleasing given it has been an area of focus and is regarded as a strong indicator of successful entry level programs producing sustainable participation.
“We are incredibly grateful for the work of cricket’s 50,000 plus volunteers who contribute millions of hours each year to meet the day-to-day challenges of supporting and growing our participant base. It is also important to acknowledge our passionate game and market development staff from CA, states and territories – they have made such an important contribution to cricket’s growth over recent years.
“With an aspiration to be Australia’s favourite sport, and a sport for all Australians, it is pleasing to see the continued increase in diversity across our sport. Female participants are now nearly a quarter of our playing base and whilst this growth is something that we are particularly proud of, diversity will continue to be an area of strong focus, including the desire to see significant increases in Indigenous and multicultural participant numbers.
“We firmly believe that our participant base is the lifeblood of our sport – and we remain committed to supporting and growing our participant base so as to build cricket’s strong connection to the Australian community.
Club and community cricket continued its recent resurgence throughout the year. There are close to 25,000 cricket teams across Australia which, in combination with 1,605 registered entry level programs, amounts to 415,104 participants – a six per cent increase on 2013-14.
Traditional 11-a-side club cricket accounted for 344,053 participants across 23,000 teams, including 90 new female 11-a-side teams. It is the third consecutive year that traditional club cricket participation has increased.
Cricket was also king of the schoolyard in 2014-15. A total of 628,826 participants played cricket in schools, a 15 per cent increase on last year. School participation was complemented by a 10 per cent increase in junior participation in clubs and through MILO in2Cricket and MILO T20 Blast.
The release of the 2014-15 Australian Cricket Census coincides with National PlayCricket Registration Drive, Australian Cricket’s national participation campaign that calls on Australians to sign up to play cricket in 2015.