On September 28, Cricket Australia released the fourth edition of the Press for Progress report, just a couple of days before the historic pink-ball Test that will be played between India and Australia from September 30 to October 3 at the Carrara Oval in Queensland.
The Press for Progress Report reflects Australian Cricket’s commitment to being openly accountable in its progression towards becoming Australia’s leading sport for women and girls. There is no doubt that the 2020-21 season was one of cricket’s most challenging seasons to date as the world was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which disturbed the normal routine of the game. Although the pandemic halted some of the planned activity, insights across the five pillars – Leadership, Participation, Pathway, Elite, and Fans – from the 2020-21 report include:
- There are more women in CEO roles across Australian Cricket with Olivia Thornton (Cricket ACT CEO), Michelle Enright (ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Australia 2022 Local Organising Committee CEO), and Jodie Newton (SACA Acting CEO) joining Christina Matthews (WA Cricket CEO) across the season. Although there has been progression at the CEO level, there is still a need to improve leadership and development opportunities for women at an executive and management level.
- Despite the pandemic impacting registered participation due to the cancellation of tournaments and leagues, Australian Cricket saw a 27.4% increase in girls’ participation in Woolworths Cricket Blast, with girls now accounting for more than one in five children in the program.
- In a COVID world where many sports were rescheduled, the second standalone Women’s Big Bash League was delivered in full, with the league holding its place as the fourth most-watched domestic league in Australia.
- The Australian Women’s Team successfully hosted New Zealand, the first cricket team to tour Australia since the start of the pandemic. In return, the team traveled to New Zealand, where they inspired the country by breaking the record for most consecutive ODI wins in the history of the women’s and men’s games.
- While women and girls’ attendance at women’s internationals and WBBL increased, there was a decrease in women’s attendance at the more crowded men’s matches. This reinforces the importance of understanding the interests of women and girls as sports fans and fans interested in the women’s game.
- With a focus on delivering the international and domestic season, 2020-21 was a challenging year for Australian Cricket’s pathway programs with all underage National Championships being postponed.
- Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley acknowledged the importance of transparency and being openly accountable in cricket’s progression towards a gender-equal future.