Photo Credit: Cricket NSW
The story of cricket participation in New South Wales looks stronger than ever with the numbers continuing to increase throughout the 2022/23 season.
The season saw an 8% increase in registered participation, underpinned by significant growth in the players registered to Woolworths Cricket Blast (WWCB), which grew by over 35%.
Even as the 2023/24 season starts getting underway with unprecedented early registrations, following efforts by clubs and associations across the state to be open for business during the Ashes in July, the latest Australian Cricket Census of the 2022/23 season showed cricket in NSW was in a place stronger than the last two years and in some areas, even surpassing pre-COVID registrations during the 2019/20 season.
NSW, with its 8% year-over-year (over 11,000 registrations) increase, recorded a bigger growth than the nationwide registrations; the number of Australians playing cricket saw a 5% increase in total registered participation according to the Census.
Significantly, the number of registered Cricket Blast participants in NSW saw a 35% increase over the previous year, while the number of individual registrations in the 5 to 12 year-old-players segment clocked 35,331, a 10.15% increase, from the 32,074 of the previous season. These areas are key priorities for growth in Australian and NSW Cricket. The other area of significant growth in NSW was girls’ Cricket Blast, which saw a 123% (over 5,200) increase in registrations since their pre-COVID numbers in 2019/20.
Across Australia, the 5% growth translated to 627,693 participants registered in entry-level programs, clubs and other competitions, from 598,931 in the previous season. That numbers are gradually returning to the pre-COVID (2019/20) peak of 710,000 was again testament to the unstinting work of community volunteers and club administrators who remain instrumental in growing the game.
Key findings of NSW Cricket from the Australian Cricket Census included:
- Women and Girls registrations in cricket clubs (senior and junior) and Woolworths Cricket Blast in NSW increased 49%
The continued rise in female participation has been driven by the inspiring role models of the world champion Australian women’s team and the WBBL, impactful grassroots programs and the support of partners including CommBank. Girls’ Cricket Blast, in particular, saw a 123% growth since 2019/20. The corresponding increase nationwide in girls, cricket was a close 40%, and girls now constitute more than a quarter (27%) of all Woolworths Cricket Blast registered participants across Australia.
- Woolworths Cricket Blast registrations in NSW increased 35% over last year, higher than the national increase of 24%
New delivery methods including before/after school programs helped bring more first-timers into the game before a revamp of the Woolworths Cricket Blast program, which is expected to further accelerate growth in the entry-level program.
- The number of Australian children of South Asian heritage in Woolworths Cricket Blast and junior cricket continued to increase (29% among 5 to 12 year-olds in NSW)
Huge attendances at the T20 World Cup highlighted the enormous opportunity for Australian Cricket to embrace the growing South-Asian community. These increases in registered participation highlighted the work being done to ensure cricket programs, community clubs and pathways are inclusive and engaging.
- Registered junior club participation in NSW remained stable, despite a slight decrease in those aged 11 and under
The Census recorded a small drop in junior club cricket in the state among players aged 12 and under (-4%), reflecting the closure of entry-level programs during COVID with less players making the transition to junior cricket. This is further magnified in NSW with growth recorded in the 13-18 age group compared to 2021/22.
Australian Cricket had identified this likely outcome and has a strategy to double the number of 5 to 12 year-olds playing cricket to ensure future junior and senior registered participation remain strong.
Lee Germon, CEO, Cricket NSW, said:
“It is fantastic that so many youngsters across NSW play and love cricket, and the numbers continue to grow. We have made significant growth in cricket participation overall and specifically in the areas of Woolworths Cricket Blast, women’s and girls’ cricket and junior cricket for those aged 12 and under.
“The continued growth in multicultural and girls’ participation numbers is an amazing success story in NSW. We are looking forward to more and more girls and boys being inspired to pick up a bat and ball.
“I would like to highlight that it is the invaluable contribution of our clubs, associations, and Cricket Blast centres who have worked tirelessly to bring these results.”
Martin Gleeson, General Manager, Community Cricket Experience, Cricket NSW, said:
“We’re really pleased more young children are choosing to play cricket. We are particularly heartened with the combined growth in Woolworths Cricket Blast and club cricket as these are key strategic areas for the game.
“We want to make sure more children make the transition from entry-level programs to junior cricket and we have strategies in place to ensure more children make that transition in the coming years.
“This growth again highlights the amazing work of community clubs and volunteers to get players and teams on the field and the importance of cricket to local communities. We will continue to ensure cricket’s connection with communities grow stronger every year.”