Cricket’s role as a uniting force in the community has been underscored by the New South Wales results from the 2020/21 Australian Cricket Census, with more kids registering for club cricket and Woolworths Cricket Blast despite the impact of Covid-19 disruptions.
The sport’s passionate volunteer force drove an 8% increase in the number of children registered to play Junior and Blast cricket last season, thanks largely to their efforts in successfully negotiating the extra burdens imposed by strict bio-security regulations and restrictions.
The rising popularity of cricket with girls also continued with a 27% increase in registered club and Woolworths Cricket Blast participation aided by the success of Australia’s World Champion Women’s Team and the significant contribution from CommBank into The Next Innings program.
Despite the rise in those numbers around children and girls, the inevitable impact of the pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of many tournaments and leagues led to an overall year-on-year decline in registered participation of 22% across all cricket.
Cancelled competitions impacted registration numbers in indoor, school and winter cricket particularly.
Where competitions were able to proceed, the lift in numbers among juniors, females and Woolworths Cricket Blast demonstrated cricket’s role in connecting communities during the pandemic.
The first National Player and Volunteer Survey, held in conjunction with the Australian Cricket Census, indicated volunteers had a strong satisfaction with their roles (+26 Net Promoter Score) while 89% of players surveyed expressed satisfaction with their overall experience.
Among the notable points from the 2020-21 Australian Cricket Census:
- The cancellation of tournaments and leagues due to the pandemic were felt most acutely in indoor cricket (-56.4%) and schools (-57.3%),, resulting in a total YoY decline in registered participation of 22%,
- However, for tournaments and leagues that were able to proceed, club competitions (+32.0%) registered YoY growth,
- There was an 8% increase in children registered to participate in junior cricket and Woolworths Cricket Blast compared to the previous non-pandemic year. This is the second consecutive year of registered junior participation growth in NSW and is testament to the incredible work of volunteers,
The increase in children registered as participants was in large part driven by girls (+19%), who for the first time ever account for more than one-fifth of all participants in Woolworths Cricket Blast,
- The Sydney South West area recorded the largest growth increase, with nearly 3,000 more players registering in the 20/21 season, representing a 29% increase in the area,
- The National Player and Volunteer Survey revealed a +57 Net Promoter Score among participants, and a +26 among volunteers.
Cricket NSW’s GM of Community Cricket Experience, Joanne Scanlon, said the strength of volunteers during a challenging season for community sport shone through.
“The results of the Australian Cricket Census show that not even this once-in-a-century pandemic could dull the community’s passion for our great game,” Scanlon said.
“The fact so many people were able to continue to play and love cricket last season is an extraordinary outcome in a pandemic and made possible largely because of the wonderful efforts of volunteers across the state.
“The continued growth in participation for our junior, female and Woolworths Cricket Blast programs shows just how exciting the future is.
“To every player, volunteer and parent, we thank you.Cricket NSW will continue to listen, adapt and support the growth of cricket across your communities.”
The 2020/21 Australian Cricket Census is the 20th annual audit of Australian cricket participation. The Census has become an important measure for Community Cricket, setting targets and monitoring successes and trends for the long‐term enhancement of Australian cricket.
The Census only includes formal participants in organised competitions and programs. It does not include participants in cricket activities which do not meet a minimum program requirement of four weeks/games duration.
The Census is compiled by the Community Cricket department at Cricket Australia and each State and Territory Cricket association, and an independent validation of the process and results is conducted by Street Ryan Consulting.