Cricket participation in Australia and, New South Wales in particular, have reached record highs with a significant increase in the involvement of women and girls, according to the 2017/18 Cricket Australia National Cricket Census.

Participation across the country increased by 9% last season to nearly 1.6 million people with involvement in NSW/ACT growing by 5.1% reaching a new record of 414,265 cricketers. Six in every 10 new participants in Australia were women or girls with 357 new teams created in NSW/ACT for females.

According to the Census, this national increase is one of the highest year-on-year growth figures recorded. NSW/ACT accounted for 27% of the nation’s total participants equal with Victoria as the most in the country.

Cricket NSW General Manager for Community Cricket, Ivan Spyrdz, said the results are a great testament to the wonderful volunteers and staff involved in cricket across NSW/ACT.

“Cricket in NSW and ACT has never been stronger,” Spyrdz said.

“For the first time official cricket participation in NSW/ACT has exceeded 400,000. That just shows how strong cricket continues to be in the hearts and minds of many Australians.

“To see the continued growth of girls and women playing cricket and adding so much to the cricketing community is just fantastic.

“We are still in the early stages of this growth as female fans of cricket become players of cricket and adding 357 more female teams highlights this.”

Junior female players in NSW grew by 19% to 11,403 players. Many of these cricketers participated in Sydney Sixers and Thunder girls cricket leagues which increased from 162 to 310 teams last season.

Schools Program Participants also increased significantly by 21% to 205,542.

Spyrdz said the launch of the new Woolworths Cricket Blast program in June already has participation numbers tracking ahead of last season.

“We are very excited that even more young cricketers are getting involved at such a young age and enjoying the social benefits of community sport,” he said.

The introduction of the NSW Government’s Active Kids voucher program has also been important in driving participation growth.

“Already we have seen thousands of NSW school kids claimed their free $100 voucher and put it towards cricket. In many cases, those kids are playing cricket for free this summer,” Spyrdz said.

Significant investment in junior programs and facilities by Cricket NSW helped drive the growth in NSW/ACT.

New junior formats designed to encourage greater participation, involving a shorter pitch length and boundaries for cricketers under 15, were a key part of the strategy.

The new program was rolled out across 84% of junior associations in NSW and ACT.

In partnership with Cricket Australia and the State Government, Cricket NSW has invested more than $5.2 million for the development of new facilities to further drive participation.

“With the recently announced increased investment in Community Cricket, including 34 more community-based roles in NSW/ACT, not only will our service to the community increase, we are confident participation will also increase within our cricket clubs in years to come.

“Record participation, record investment in Community Cricket and another big season of cricket about to start with a new record broadcast deal, it indeed is an exciting time for cricket in NSW and ACT.”

This investment is set to continue over the next three years with Cricket Australia announcing last week that in partnership with state and territory associations, $35 million will be invested to significantly grow and support community cricket during this period.