According to the 2012/13 Australian Cricket Census conducted by Cricket Australia, Cricket remains the nation’s main summer sport in terms of participation.
According to the census, in every state and territory, with the exception of the Northern Territory, participation levels increased by at least 19% in 2012/13 up from 2011/12, with W.A. having a whopping participation increase of 39.76%.
Given the recent success of the Southern Stars, it is also worth noting that a high number of female participants are partly responsible for the increased levels of participation, particularly for children and teenagers.
To encourage people to play the sport, last year Cricket Australia launched the website, www.playcricket.com.au In 2013, cricket had a record 951,922 participants playing the game across the country at all levels. Interestingly, the A.C.T. and Tasmania had the highest player-to-population rate at 11.56% and 11.64% respectively. As for the whole of Australia, 7.79% of people aged between 5-29 played cricket on a regular basis in a program or competition in 2012/13. While the high participation levels of cricket in the A.C.T. and Tasmania may be somewhat reflective of the small populations, it’s a positive sign for the sport.
Across the country the popularity of cricket continues to grow, with the third season of the T20 Big Bash League proving a success. The Big Bash League drew an average of 20,000 fans to games, up from 14,000 the previous year, with a sold out WACA hosting the final between the Perth Scorchers and the Hobart Hurricanes. Television audiences also grew exponentially after channel 10 bought the rights from Fox sports and showed the games on free to air live channels, 10 and ONE HD. The 2013/14 BBL attracted almost 1 million viewers per game, a four-fold increase from 2012/13 competition. In addition, Ashes test matches drew huge crowds last summer, with day one of the boxing day test at the M.C.G. drawing a record crowd of over 91,000, breaking a 52 year old record of 90,800.
With participation levels across all ages and genders high, and attendances and television viewership of cricket remaining well above average, it is safe to say that Australian cricket is truly a nationally embraced sport, and a proud part of our culture.
Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket have announced that they will play a historic first day-night test in summer 2015. The right to stage the match has narrowed to either Adelaide Oval or Blundstone Arena in Hobart. This coincides with the Black Caps’ tour of Australia scheduled for 2015-16.
Holding a day-night Test will give people the opportunity to come to the game, either after school or after work and more exposure due to a friendly television time. Attending Tests would be more accessible to all, if held in the day-night format. According to Cricket Australia, data showed that Australia’s regular Perth Test, which screens until around 9pm in the eastern states has a increased viewership of around 40 per cent higher than other matches played at a similar time of year.
As the timing of the day-night Tests are planned for November 2015, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland confirmed that Perth was not in calculations to host the match due to the time it would finish in the eastern states, and Brisbane’s Gabba had been discounted because its lighting boasts a slightly lower intensity than other Australian Test grounds. With the M.C.G. and S.C.G. hosting the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests respectively, Adelaide and Hobart are left as potential venues for the world’s first day-night Test.
Plans have progressed for the day-night test to use a pink ball, with further trials set to take place on the development of the ball to more closely resemble the characteristics of the red ball that is currently used in Test matches. Both Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket are supportive of the innovation and it’s benefits in day-night Test matches. Cricket Australia will continue to examine the suitability of the pink Kookaburra balls. The pink balls will be first trialled in New Zealand this summer although it’s unlikely they will be used in first-class level matches.
Cricket Australia CEO David Sutherland said the International Cricket Council’s support for the concept and the flexibility for participants to tweak playing conditions meant the final details of the match timing were yet to be finalized. Broadcaster, Channel Nine has already voiced its support for the innovative concept. Channel Nine Entertainment Co Chief Executive Officer David Gyngell said, “We of course share the excitement of both Cricket Australia and our friends in New Zealand about the day-night Test Cricket”.
Currently, the match is set to finish around 9:30pm, with the possibility of having two-30 minute breaks in play rather than the traditional 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea.
NZ Cricket has also indicated that they would request one or two warm-up matches played under similar conditions prior to the Test in Australia next year to allow their players to get a feel for the changed conditions.
Australian captain Michael Clarke has teamed up with US-based baseball company Rawlings to design a cricket specific glove for training. Clarke, and other Aussie cricketers have been using baseball gloves for training for over 12 years when fielding coach Mike Young, a US native advised the Aussie team to wear fielding gloves during training and warm-ups. Wearing baseball gloves helps cricketers protect their hands at training and Clarke states that it also helps with throwing the ball.
The deal will see Rawlings use Clarke’s input to design a modified glove for cricket fielding drills, along with thin gloves for use during catching practice. The announcement comes a month after Australia hosted the Major League Baseball opening series at the S.C.G. between the L.A. Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Clarke believes that cricket can learn a lot from baseball fielders; their arm strength and speed to the ball and general fielding athleticism. Recently Clarke visited the US with wife Kyly who threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a St. Louis Cardinals game. Clarke was the catcher while Kyly was his “injury replacement” to throw out the first pitch. During the visit, Clarke met with Rawlings product management and designers, also based in St. Louis to collaborate on the development of his signature fielder’s glove, set to debut later this year.
Interestingly, Clarke says “there are a lot of baseball coaches involved in some forms of Cricket, whether it be the first-class system or grade cricket”. And Mike Young is, as Clarke puts is, “at the pinnacle of that with the Australian team”. While this is the first time Rawlings has made an endorsement deal in the sport of cricket, although the brand has seen a increase over the last three years in the sales of baseball gloves to cricket markets such as India and South Africa, as well as Australia.
Cricket Australia adds, “it’s not clear yet if Rawlings will attempt to revolutionise wicketkeeping glove in line with a baseball feel, and any attempt would require a change in the Laws of Cricket”.