Cricket is Australia's current number one participation sport after record numbers picked up a bat and ball in 2015-16, while almost one quarter of all players are female, the National Cricket Census has revealed.
After crunching the numbers, Cricket Australia today unveiled the record-breaking results from this year's National Cricket Census.
A record 1,311,184 people played cricket across Australia in 2015-16, an 8.5 per cent increase on 2014-15 – placing cricket at No.1 as the current top participation sport in Australia.
Women's cricket at the highest level went from strength to strength last summer with the success of the Women's Big Bash League and that success is being reflected at grassroots level, where participation reached record figures in 2015-16, growing nine per cent to 314,936 players.
Overall, 24 per cent of all cricketers in Australia are female, with 581 girls and women’s teams playing traditional, 11-a-side cricket at clubs across the county.
The Census also revealed a 28 per cent increase in multicultural participation, a 40 per cent increase in Indigenous participation and 70 per cent increase in disability participation from the last census.
Club and community participation has jumped 9.5 per cent to 454,657 in the past 12 months, with juniors aged 5‐12 years making up 59.4 per cent of all 2015‐16 participants.
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School and Indoor participation also grew, by 7.5 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.
"Cricket is clearly the sport of choice for many Australians and we’re proud to be billed as one of the biggest participation sports in the country," Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said.
"As another exciting summer approaches, we continue to be focused on growing our sport and inspiring Australians from all walks of life to pick up a bat and ball and play cricket.
"We’re committed to continuing to invest in the grass roots, as we have demonstrated with a $4 million commitment in launching a Growing Cricket for Girls fund.
"It is pleasing to see major increases in diversity across our sport. Female participants are now nearly a quarter of our playing base and whilst this growth is something that we are particularly proud of, diversity will continue to be an area of strong focus, including the desire to see further increases in multicultural and indigenous participants.”
Sutherland said the record participation numbers followed record attendances and television audiences last summer.
"We had a considerable 2015-16 season with more than 1.7 million Australians attending international cricket and the men’s and women’s Big Bash League, making last season the country’s most attended cricket season on record.
"1.3 million fans tuned in to watch Test, ODI and T20 International matches broadcast on the Nine Network.
"The Big Bash League rose to unprecedented levels of popularity in its fifth year, with an average audience of more than 1 million Australians tuning in to watch the tournament on Network TEN and a record breaking 1,030,495 people attending matches.
"The Women’s Big Bash League also achieved impressive results in just its first season. We were able to demonstrate a viable pathway for girls and women to pick up a bat and ball and take up cricket as a professional sport."
Sutherland also paid tribute to the volunteers who play a crucial role in helping over one million Australians play cricket.
"Those that play are supported by an army of more than 50,000 volunteers who meet the day-to-day challenges of ensuring the sport is played at community level – and it is appropriate to recognise their significant contribution."
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The National Cricket Census was conducted by independent researcher Street Ryan – who is also responsible for similar auditing of Australia’s other major participation sports, including AFL, NRL AFL, ARU, basketball, hockey and golf – and measured participation over the last financial year, with a ‘participant’ defined as someone who takes part in at least four sessions of a formal cricket program.
The release of the 2015-16 Australian Cricket Census coincides with the National PlayCricket Registration Drive, calling on Australians to sign up to play cricket in 2016.
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