Cricket’s role as a uniting force in the community has been underscored by the 2020/21 Australian Cricket Census with more kids registering for club cricket and Woolworths Cricket Blast despite the impact of Covid-19 disruptions.
The rising popularity of cricket with girls continued with a 17.5% increase in girls registering for club and Woolworths Cricket Blast participation aided by the success of Australia’s World Champion Women’s Team and the significant contribution from CommBank into The Next Innings program.
The inevitable impact of the pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of many tournaments and leagues led to an overall year-on-year decline in registered participation of 24% across all cricket from 710,000 to 539,000.
But the number of children registered to play cricket last season increased from 2019/20 thanks largely to the efforts of volunteers who successfully negotiated the extra burdens imposed by strict bio-security regulations and restrictions.
Cancelled competitions impacted registration numbers in indoor, school and winter cricket particularly.
Where competitions were able to proceed, the lift in numbers among juniors, females and Woolworths Cricket Blast demonstrated cricket’s role in connecting communities during the pandemic.
The first National Player and Volunteer Survey, held in conjunction with the Australian Cricket Census, indicated volunteers had a strong satisfaction with their roles (+30 Net Promoter Score) while 89% of players surveyed expressed satisfaction with their overall experience.
Among the notable points from the 2020-21 Australian Cricket Census:
- The cancellation of tournaments and leagues due to the pandemic were felt most acutely in indoor cricket (-56.4%), schools (-52.9%) and social competitions (-39.6%), resulting in a total YoY decline in registered participation of 24%,
- However, for tournaments and leagues that were able to proceed, club competitions (+3.4%) registered YoY growth, culminating in a Covid-adjusted registered participation increase of 2.1% across all cricket on the preceding 12-month survey period,
- There were more children registered to participate across all cricket than the previous, non-pandemic year (+2%), driven by junior cricket and Woolworths Cricket Blast. This is the first YoY increase in registered participation among children in a non-Ashes year since 2014-15 and is testament to the incredible work of volunteers,
- The increase in children registered as participants was in large part driven by girls (+17.5%), who for the first time ever account for one-fifth of all participants in Woolworths Cricket Blast,
- More than 170,000 games of cricket were played last season with no significant Covid-related events despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic,
- Club cricket and Blast experienced increases in Indigenous participation (up 1.2% YoY) and participation among people living with a disability (up 1.4% YoY), while multi-cultural participation decreased (-4.2%) in line with overall reduction.
- The National Player and Volunteer Survey revealed a +30 Net Promoter Score among volunteers, a +12 NPS among junior coaches and +10 NPS among accredited umpires.
James Allsopp, CA’s Executive General Manager of Community Cricket, said:
“The fact so many people took to the field is an extraordinary outcome in a pandemic and made possible by the incredible efforts of volunteers across the country. To all of them, I express my sincere gratitude,” he said.
“The results of the Australian Cricket Census prove that not even a once-in-a-century pandemic could dampen the community’s passion for our great game.
“Despite the COVID impact, 2% more kids chose to play club cricket and Woolworths Cricket Blast, driven by a national 17.5% increase in girl’s registrations across these competitions and programs.
“I would also like to thank everyone across Australian Cricket who contributed to a wonderful season conducted in the most trying of circumstances – from the medical and high-performance professionals who devised bio-security protocols that ensured a safe and successful summer; to the coaches, umpires, grounds staff, scorers, players and others who kept the games going; to the families and friends who supported them through it all.
“This is what cricket is all about and it’s what inspires everyone in our team to continue to listen, adapt and support the growth of cricket across our communities.”
Cricket Australia’s Head of Participation Stuart Whiley said:
“Like all sports we had some concern that the COVID-19 disruptions would have an impact on junior participation which would in turn jeopardise the long-term future of the game. Instead, the increase in kids registering reflected the tremendous efforts of volunteers as well as the popularity of cricket.
“Despite the COVID impact, there are 70% more girls playing club cricket and Cricket Blast compared to 2016/17.
“Woolworths Cricket Blast registered participation has grown 21% since 2018/19. As importantly, the National Player and Participation Survey indicated kids are loving that experience. That is reflected across the sport with initiatives such as the popular junior formats helping increase retention rates.
“It’s now up to us to keep listening and driving initiatives that help our clubs and volunteers keep the game at the heart of local communities.”
The 2020/21 Australian Cricket Census is the 20th annual audit of Australian cricket participation. The Census has become an important measure for Community Cricket, setting targets and monitoring successes and trends for the long‐term enhancement of Australian cricket.
The Census only includes formal participants in organised competitions and programs. It does not include participants in cricket activities which do not meet a minimum program requirement of four weeks/games duration.
The Census is compiled by the Community Cricket department at Cricket Australia and each State and Territory Cricket association, and an independent validation of the process and results is conducted by Street Ryan Consulting.