The 2019-20 National Cricket Census and the first edition of the National Player and Volunteer Survey conducted by Cricket Australia showed a year-on-year decline in registered participation in overall Australian cricket by 24 percent. The numbers had dropped from 710,000 to 539,000, the principal reason being the termination of tournaments and leagues due to the hard-hitting pandemic.
Contradicting this loss, a rise in the popularity of cricket among girls was observed that had led to an increase in junior club registrations. CA stated that the number of children who registered to play increased by an overall 2 percent than the previous year, mostly due to the growing popularity of sports among girls.
Stuart Whiley, Cricket Australia’s Head of Participation commented that the changes and shift in the environment due to the efforts of volunteers to build the foundation create sufficient space and competitions for girls and the momentum created from the televised Women’s Big Bash League, the T20 Women’s World Cup, the eminent Australian Women’s Team and their upcoming international series against India and England have made more females comfortable to step out of their cocoons and take up sporting challenges. After all, one can be taken forward only after one has taken up.
The survey also showed a 1.2 percent rise in Indigenous participation and a 1.4 percent increase in cricket played by disabled people. However, there was a 4.2 percent fall in multi-cultural participation. James Allsop, Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Community Cricket stated that multicultural people want to be more involved in cricket, yet they do not know the way to actually get involved.
Furthermore, the traditional club structures that have been followed for ages are not suitable for everybody and anybody. Therefore, there has been a need to open up and diversify the cricket offerings to make conditions conducive and inclusive for not only multicultural people but also more of the female population. Modifications are required as per the needs and preferences of the cricket people so that anyone who wants to play the game can join and receive support.
In the previous year, despite the difficult times, the officials of the Cricket Association along with help from volunteers successfully conducted 170,000 games of cricket. They hope to maintain if not increase the number this year and have braced themselves for the upcoming season. Of course, it is concerning to take up this tough responsibility but, through their efforts, they have discovered several ways to keep the players and clubs on their feet and be prepared for competitions when everything opens up.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.