Australian cricket enters grassroots recession

In the world of finance, the "recession" has a simple definition: two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Cricket in Australia now faces an equivalent recession, according to the latest edition of the annual CA census conducted each year since 2000.

While the census has always been accompanied by numbers" participation "bright, growing every year and once again in 2018 reporting a jump to more than 1.5 million, this figure has long been known to be particularly rubbery, given that, according to CA and its Street Ryan censorship, it is defined by anyone who participates in school programs or competitions at least four times during a summer. Within that figure, the number of registered club cricket players is a much more reliable indicator of the popular reach of the game, and this is the problem .

In 2018, the number of "club and community" players in Australia has decreased for the second year in a row, sliding from a peak of 454,657 in 201 6 to 444,570 in 2017 and now 432,609. In the case of any self-rated survey looking for gains, this trend may be more pronounced than it seems, even when the losses of the traditional ranges of male and adult players are offset by the growth between players and juniors. It is also remarkable that not even these numbers seem really reliable, as a result of the increasingly broad criteria.

In the last seven surveys, the figures of the clubs tell something of an oscillating story. In 2012, the figure was 313,536; in 2013 it rose to 318,830, and then it jumped in 2014 to even 337,000. This is where things get even more interesting, since that was the year that CA began to cut numbers including less formal numbers of "community cricket" as well: increasing the 2014 figure to 400,000.

For 2015, the numbers of clubs again increased 344,053, with the figure amalgamated entering a more generous 415,104. As if by a process of evolution, the distinction had disappeared in the figures of 2016, when CA trumpeted to an apparently powerful 454.657 players of "clubs and communities". Therefore, the decrease in that number in 2017 and this year can hide a more pronounced reduction in the number of players who actually play the type of cricket club that could be defined as a serious participation.

This does not mean that CA is ignoring the aforementioned recession. On the contrary, his version of the Keynesian stimulus was announced last week in the form of about 35 million Australian dollars in directed and strategic funds for the cricket levels of the community. The areas of population growth in New South Wales / ACT, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia will be served by no less than 58 new community cricket employees, almost $ 13 million will be directly earmarked for infrastructure projects, registration fees for Junior programs will be redirected to funding clubs, more funds will be promoted for growing competitions for women and girls, and free level one training courses will be offered to help volunteers.

Leading the relevant CA department is Game Development Manager Belinda Clark, who has long noted the critical importance of the club's participation number to assess the overall health of the game in Australia. When asked about how CA was solving the gap between promising general participation and the number of less promising clubs, Clark noted that three methods were being tested.

James Sutherland, CEO of Cricket Australia with a young admirer during the filming of Milo Cricket Australia Getty Images

"The deployment of new junior formats has been taken very well in the community," Clark told him to ESPNcricinfo recently. "So last year there were 65% of associations that started to implement those formats and this year we anticipate reaching 90% of the associations, so the first step is to make sure the game is fun, fast and attractive for children , then that's it.

"But in terms of making sure the environment is excellent, it's where the free community level one coaching courses come into play, making sure that the kids, once they get to the club, Have good coaches and good experiences. . The third bit is to provide additional resources: by sharing the revenue from the Cricket Blast registry, it provides clubs with a source of revenue that did not exist before to ensure there are opportunities to continue playing. "

Efforts are being made to Clark In addition, in 2016, the then Australian Sports Commission, now Sports Australia, launched AusPlay, a national sports participation survey that immediately installed cricket as an inhabitant of the middle table, with 562,669 registered participants, which ranked the sixth game among the top 10, well behind soccer, golf, AFL, netball and tennis.

In the most recent AusPlay survey, conducted last year and launched in April 2018, cricket slipped to 545,704 participants. and ranked seventh in the top 10, now also behind the basketball, of course, there is a difference between the registered players club, participants and supporters, an area in which CA can still aim for great success. The figure that indicates that the game is calculated stronger than any other is A $ 1.18 billion paid by News Corporation and Seven for broadcasting rights, more than any sport apart from the winter basics of AFL and NRL could dream.

To that end, the triumphal note reached by the executive director James Sutherland in his final census before leaving work was not completely out of place. "We are delighted to see that the number of Australians playing cricket continues to grow year after year, having more than 1.5 million Australians participating in cricket last season is a fantastic result, highlighting the passion that Australians have for the cricket. cricket, "said Sutherland. "We are happy with the acceptance of young children who experience cricket through programs designed specifically for schools.

" More than 850,000 young Australians participated in these programs in 2017-18 – these entry-level numbers are outstanding , and we hope that the programs help infuse love to the game that will keep them playing and enjoying their cricket. We are working hard with the community to ensure that this interest and enthusiasm is transferred to regular gaming opportunities.

"We have more women and girls playing cricket than ever before, and The Growing Cricket for Girls Fund has been an overwhelming success and program in which we will continue to invest heavily." We are especially pleased with 619 new girls' teams creating opportunities for the next Meg Lanning or Ellyse Perry learn the game. "

Having said that, the recession of participation in the club's land will have more serious consequences if it is allowed to continue. Just ask the ECB.


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