| Cricket Australia

Cricketers return to the field in big numbers despite COVID disruption


August 03, 2022



By Cricket Australia

Young cricketers continued to take the field in big numbers despite the challenges created by COVID-19 with the amount of juniors registered to play club cricket across Australia increasing in the two seasons since the pandemic began.

The 2021-22 Australian Cricket Census revealed junior club registrations rose to 114,400 from 109,400 in 2020-21. This was also an increase from 107,500 in 2019-20, the most recent season when there was no COVID disruption.

The increase in the number of players registered for junior cricket came despite the enormous challenges all sports have faced keeping young participants active.

This was testament to the dedication of local volunteers whose work was increased by COVID-19 protocols and, in Queensland and NSW, floods that devastated many regions.

The Cricket Census revealed thousands of players returned to cricket in 2021-22 with total registered participation growing year-on-year by 11% from 539,424 to 598,931. Despite this, registered participation is still 16% down since pre-covid largely due to ongoing impacts on indoor cricket and organised school competitions.

The rise in women’s cricket continued with registered female participation increasing year-on-year by 12,000 to 71,300. The number of girls registered for junior club cricket has increased from 10,700 in 2019-20 (pre-COVID) to 13,200.

This again underlined Cricket Australia’s significant investment in women’s cricket as well as the high profile of the Australian Women’s team assisted by our partnership with CommBank which also supports the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund.

However, after two years of severe disruption to community sport, Australian Cricket has identified the need to attract more first-time participants as a key strategic priority.

In 2021-22 the closure of some Woolworths Cricket Blast centres in major centres including metropolitan Sydney due to COVID lockdowns saw the number of registered Woolworths Cricket Blast participants in Australia fall from 63,158 to 56,547.

First-time cricket participation in Woolworths Cricket Blast and Junior Cricket across Australia decreased by 15,000 last season. This has created a challenge to ensure there is not a “missing generation” and increased participation among 5 to 12 year-olds is a key component of Australian Cricket’s soon to be released strategy.

James Allsopp, Executive General Manager Community Cricket, said:

“I am delighted that so many players were able to return to cricket last summer or play for the first time.   

“For a second season, the volunteers who run our community clubs and Woolworths Cricket Blast centres did an amazing job ensuring thousands of people could play cricket in safe, fun and inclusive environments.

“It has been a challenging time for all sport, so we are particularly pleased that our retention rates remain strong and kids and teenagers are continuing to enjoy the benefits of cricket in large numbers.

“We are also extremely proud of the great work that is ensuring cricket is a Sport for All.  The sustained increases in female participation, particularly, continue to justify Cricket Australia’s strong investment in this area and the influence of the inspirational role models in the Australian Women's team and the Weber WBBL.

“At the same time, we are acutely aware that we need to attract more first-time players and their families to our sport. This is an integral part of CA’s strategic plan and we are working hard to ensure more people play the game so that community cricket has a healthy and sustainable long-term future.” 

Other significant findings from the 2021-22 Australian Cricket Census included:

• COVID-adjusted (allowing for competitions cancelled due to COVID) registered participation was 722,000. This compared with 710,000 in the most recent non-COVID season, 2019-20. 

• Junior club cricket registrations grew from 109,400 to 114,400, a year-on-year increase of 4.6%. (Boys registered for junior cricket increased by 4.5% on the last non-COVID year 19-20 and girls registered for junior cricket increased by 24.5% on 19-20.)

• Registered participation in senior club cricket increased from 212,000 from 223,000 (5%) year-on-year.

• Indoor participation increased from 71,857 to 101,081 and organised school cricket increased from 47,031 to 62,504 as COVID restrictions eased in some locations.

• Multicultural registrations at clubs (players born outside Australia or with one parent born outside Australia) rose from 121,100 to 126,000 year-on-year and from 118,100 in 2019-22.

The second National Cricket Survey was conducted in conjunction with the Australian Cricket Census. Key findings included:

• Satisfaction among players remained positive with both senior (+51) and junior club players (+51) surveyed returning high Net Promoter Scores.   

• Satisfaction among volunteers declined from a Net Promoter Score of +30 to +22 as the challenges of COVID emphasised the need to provide strong support for at local level including improved digital technology. 

• 79% of all cricketers indicated they were extremely likely to continue playing beyond the next 12 months.

• Despite COVID challenges there was a high retention rate among volunteers (75%), coaches (66%) and accredited umpires (70%).

• There is growing interest in shorter and/or flexible formats particularly among adult players.

The 2021-22 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 longā€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.