Western Australian cricket has again been highlighted as a driver of the game nationally, following today’s release by Cricket Australia of the National Cricket Census data for 2016-17.

Cricket broke new ground over the past 12 months, with a new record total of 1,429,529 participants nationally for a growth of nine per cent year-on-year.

That growth translated locally, with another strong year for WA cricket, which experienced a YoY increase of more than 11 per cent to achieve 186,386 participants, contrasted with the state’s current annual estimated population growth of a little more than one per cent.

The YoY increase had WA (11.3 per cent) second behind Victoria (14.7 per cent) in growth rate for states and territories with 100,000 participants or more.

The continued take-up ensured WA remained the fastest growing state for cricket in the country, with its annual average increase of 15.46 per cent over the past six years making it the national leader, ahead of Queensland’s annual average of 11.63 per cent.

Today’s release of the National Cricket Census data comes as WA prepares to launch its PlayCricket registration awareness drive, which begins with a Perth Scorchers Pop-Up Session in Ellenbrook tomorrow, followed by a week-long blitz of up to 100 school visits across the metro area. Please see playcricket.com.au for more information.

Diversity Segments

The Western Australian Cricket Association’s focus on key diversity areas again resulted in strong growth across the Female, Aboriginal, Multicultural and All Abilities (people with a disability) areas.

The WACA was again a national innovator in its approach to making cricket more accessible for women and girls and that resulted in a 23 per cent YoY increase in female participation, to 63,806. A key innovation was the expansion of WA’s unique Perth Scorchers Girls League to 44 teams across the state, including new competitions in Peel, Midland Guildford, Northam, Bunbury and Esperance.

The Perth Scorchers Girls League was an initiative designed by WA cricket two seasons ago to address the challenge of transitioning girls in junior programs into community cricket competitions, without the need to play in mixed teams, with the results and expansion speaking for themselves.

The WACA’s unique investment in Aboriginal cricket through the employment of the country’s only Aboriginal Programs Coordinator, Larry Kickett, and the establishment of the WA Aboriginal Cricket Advisory Committee to provide strategic leadership for the development of Aboriginal cricket in the state were important steps in helping to grow participation in that focus area across the past 12 months.

An increase in school participants, along with increased attention on the development of programs such as the Ballardong Cricket Academy in Northam and the growth of regional partnerships with organisations such as Ngurra Kujungka in the Western Desert and Netball WA in the Mid-West, led to exciting opportunities for Aboriginal people in cricket.

The WACA has continued to work hard to create a more accessible pathway for cricketers with disability, with the past 12 months including the introduction of the Integrated Cricket League, an initiative focused on promoting and fostering mental wellbeing and social inclusion in people with a disability by integrating those players into a club environment alongside players without a disability.

The inaugural National Cricket Inclusion Championships was also held over the past census period, with WA achieving great success, as its deaf team and combined WA/SA blind team won their divisions. Individual performances in the Intellectual Disability competition resulted in four WA players being selected in the Australian ID Squad and two (Boyd Duffield and Anthony Kalimeris) making the final cut to tour England.

The WACA made a concerted effort over the past year to engage and support community groups, particularly those running their own cricket competitions, in order to assist the diversification of cricket across Multicultural groups.

That support has assisted in improving competitions and aligning others to existing cricket pathways and structures, with the Perth Scorchers Culture Cup exemplifying that model. The PSCC pitted the best teams from various community groups in a T20 competition, reflecting the excitement of Big Bash cricket and providing the winning team with an opportunity to receive their championship medallions on-ground at #TheFurnace prior to KFC BBL match.

Clubs and Communities

The downward trend of the combined category of Clubs and Community disguised the growth of traditional Club cricket, which experienced an increase of three per cent in participants across junior and senior competitions, with the group decline a result of decreasing participants in the entry-level programs of MILO in2CRICKET and MILO T20Blast.

The decline in those segments will draw attention from the WACA’s Game and Market Development team, but it is acknowledged that the effects of an Olympic year drawing attention away from cricket and inclement weather during the registration drive period were key impact points on the numbers of participants.

WACA General Manager – Game and Market Development Jo Davies said: "There are some really positive results in this data and the WACA is proud of another great season of cricket across WA.

"School participation in cricket programs and competitions was the highlight of the season, with the achievement of having so many WA school kids exposed to cricket a crucial result in underpinning the future of our game.

"The diversity of our participants is also an area we are proud of, with increases across the board in our focus areas, and that is the result of the hard work and passion that goes into the growth and development of cricket across the state.

"The tireless work of, not only our WACA team, but the thousands of dedicated volunteers – including our fantastic network of School Ambassadors – ensures our game remains strong and healthy.

"While we’re proud of the overall story these figures tell, some challenges remain in our community cricket segment, such as the downward trend we experienced in our entry-level programs (MILO in2CRICKET and MILO T20Blast) and this is an issue that cricket across the country experienced and must address.

"We are always looking at ways to enhance the delivery model for those formats and we are already implementing a range of strategies to better transition junior players from school programs to community clubs, with a focus on the most important aspect of all – ensuring they have a great experience and want to return to the sport.

"We’re excited about the summer of cricket ahead and the opportunities to build on the great results that these figures show and all that begins this weekend, with the launch of the 2017-18 PlayCricket campaign."

WA Minister for Sport and Recreation Hon Mick Murray MLA said: "It is no surprise we have been leading the country in participation growth in cricket over the last six years. WA cricket has always been at the forefront and these latest participation growth figures confirm that.

"Most importantly, WA cricket is charging ahead. The increases in women’s participation over the last 12 months is nothing short of outstanding and I believe there is still more ground to be gained there. Women’s sport in this country is booming and I am so pleased WA cricket is helping to lead that charge.

"I firmly believe sport is one of the strongest tools we have in our communities to promote inclusion and integration, and physical and social wellbeing, of people from non-Australian backgrounds. WA cricket’s performance in growing its multicultural reach is to be commended."

2016-17 National Cricket Census – Key Findings

Western Australia

  • Total Participants Breakdown
    • 186,386 total participants (+11% YoY)
    • 125,517 school participants (+18%)
    • 39,783 club and community participants (-3%)
  • Junior Participation Pathway
    • 3,899 MILO in2CRICKET participants (-15%)
    • 3,436 MILO T20Blast (-18%)
  • Diversity Segments
    • 63,806 female participants (+23%)
    • 9,510 Aboriginal participants (+11%)
    • 33,916 Multicultural participants (+16%)
    • 3,078 All Abilities participants (+26%)

Australia

  • Total Participants Breakdown
    • 1,429,529 total participants (+9% YoY)
    • 799,939 school participants (+18%)
    • 444,570 club and community participants (-2%)
  • Junior Participation Pathway
    • 35,731 MILO in2CRICKET participants (-11%)
    • 20,597 MILO T20Blast (-5%)
  • Diversity Segments
    • 393,735 female participants (+25%)
    • 54,326 Indigenous participants (+47%)
    • 222,120 Multicultural participants (+18%)
    • 23,172 All Abilities participants (33%)

About the Australian Cricket Census

The 2016-17 Census is the 15th annual auditing of Australian cricket participation. The Cricket Census has become an important information system for game development, setting targets, and monitoring successes and trends for the long‐term enhancement of Australian cricket.

A ‘participant’ is defined by the Australian Cricket Census as someone who participates in at least four sessions of a formal cricket program.

The 2016-17 census has been compiled by specialist researcher Street Ryan, with the cooperative efforts of Cricket Australia and each of the eight state and territory cricket associations.

The organisations are responsible for recording the number of programs, teams and registered players within their state/territory for each cricket program area.

Cricket Australia’s junior participation programs are supported by Nestlé and the Australian Government via the Australian Sports Commission. The Government support aims to get children healthy and active through participation in sport.

Street Ryan is responsible for the collection of participation figures for Australia’s major sports, including AFL, NRL, ARU, basketball, hockey and golf.