Grassroots Cricket: How is the game going in your area?

May 24, 2006
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Interesting article in The Age today having a crack at Cricket Australia and their census figures.


Caught out: Cricket's inflated playing numbers revealed

Cricket Australia’s claim that 1.65 million Australians play the sport is a significant overstatement and numbers have been inflated for several years.

The peak cricketing body's Australian Cricket Census, published on June 30, claimed that one in 15 Australians played cricket in 2018-19. That includes nearly a million children playing in sport classes at school and almost 700,000 registered club cricketers.

The report stated there were 684,356 registered club cricketers, drawn from Cricket Australia's own MyCricket database. However, The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age can reveal thousands of players have multiple entries. Manually counting unique cricketers in that same database, our analysis found just 247,060 players, less than half what is claimed.
While Cricket Australia has been reporting annually increasing participation, club cricket administrators say they have been losing numbers at an alarming rate, particularly among males aged 16 and over. The number of clubs has fallen from 4200 to 3500 in the past decade, during which period the peak body has claimed a rise in "participants" from 600,000 to 1.65 million.
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Interested in people's experiences locally. How healthy are your clubs and associations?

I've found that the 'rich' areas, private schools and places with largely Anglo Saxon demographic still have cricket as a sport of choice.

Whereas low socio economic areas and more multi-cultural areas the game barely makes a ripple.

What's left are a few cricket strongholds that are increasingly relied upon to produce all the cricketers, both in number and quality.
 

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Richard Pryor

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Back when I lived in FNQ we had a decent cricket club with (from memory) a top level team, a second tier team, and then F-grade team for no-hopers (like myself) which I don't think would be on mycricket. Was also an annual T20 tournie thing for indigenous players from across north QLD that managed to get off the ground, no idea if its still going though. No idea how things are here in Bris Vegas where I've moved. My little brother played a little for a club at junior level. Don't want to doxx myself but he went to an extremely large school in Brisbane which surprisingly didn't even have a cricket team despite having generally good performance in a lot of other sports/arts fields. At school in FNQ I think twice my HS managed to round up enough players to have net sessions, and that was only until the teacher who happened to be a cricket enthusiast left the school. Agree with the perception that the private school system is the only thing keeping school cricket afloat.

Good to see this report though, outside of the financial success of the BBL it seems like CA has been resting on the laurels of the 00's all-conquering era and have been letting the game rot from the ground up. Hopefully this report gives them a good kick up the backside.
 

Richard Pryor

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Aw man I was going to bump a thread from earlier this year/late last year, I guess this will do instead.

Cricket has a lot to lose, being one of the most difficult sports to enter into (due to time and costs).
It's also a really unforgiving sport to get into. It's no fun sitting around all day only to go in and get bowled first ball, or wait all day to get an over and get smacked to all parts by some 40 year old :'(

With stuff like basketball and soccer even if you're having no impact on the game at least you get to have a run around.
 

t_94

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It definitely skewes towards a higher socio -economic demographic, even moreso now than say a decade ago.
 
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May 24, 2006
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Country areas in South Australia have suffered.

More and more 14-21 year olds are moving to Adelaide for their last few years of school, further study, apprenticeships, work.

Senior cricket teams in the country often have very old and very young players but nothing in between. Dads and their sons. No 20 something adults. Or even 30 something.
 

Cleavy

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Good to see this report though, outside of the financial success of the BBL it seems like CA has been resting on the laurels of the 00's all-conquering era and have been letting the game rot from the ground up. Hopefully this report gives them a good kick up the backside.
CA is in denial about the state of the game. Look how long it took for a cleanout of administrators etc.
 
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It definitely skewes towards a higher socio -economic demographic, even so now than say a decade ago.
Why do you think that is?

Cricket used to be played in the low socio economic areas too. In Adelaide a club Salisbury (northern working class area) were the strongest club 80s and 90s. Themselves and another club Southern Districts (also working class) were the two strongest clubs as far as producing junior players for state squads as recently as the late 90s. Both had their own thriving local hard wicket competitions too with junior and senior grades. But it's all dried up and those two clubs are now perenially weak.
 

corbies

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Not that I've ever believed CA's figures for a second and counting kids playing cricket in P.E. as cricketer is taking the piss but I'd love to know how that article has manually counted 247k unique entries on Mycricket.
 

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May 24, 2006
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Not that I've ever believed CA's figures for a second and counting kids playing cricket in P.E. as cricketer is taking the piss but I'd love to know how that article has manually counted 247k unique entries on Mycricket.
It's pretty easy.

You can go by the stats of the associations. Gives you a real indication of who has actually played a game compared to who is just a name on a registered player list.
 

Richard Pryor

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Here's an article which highlights how the stats might have been inflated, ironically it seems that the shrinking of the sport is what has led to the expanding 'participation' numbers, where teens get promoted into the senior competition to make up the numbers, and get double counted as participating in junior and senior cricket. Also seems like CA is more than happy to let the game die while they come up with ways to fudge the data to give themselves a pat on the back:
Gray’s club has between 80 and 100 senior players and a fluctuating number of juniors. Cricket Australia’s data puts that number at three times greater, which Gray says is the result of the double-counting of junior players "propping up men’s cricket". Widespread double-counting has led to an inflation of cricket’s player numbers by more than 400,000.
While Cricket Australia boasts ever-increasing participation numbers, club administrators like Gray are witnessing the opposite.

"Men in their prime have been leaving cricket for many reasons for a long time," Gray says. "So juniors are pushed up into senior grades, and these juniors are double-counted because they are also still playing junior cricket and other competitions."

Each summer, cricket administrators across Australia struggle with the problem of how to fill teams. "We have got to replenish a lot more players each year, because we’re losing the best ones to elite programs and the older ones retire," Gray says. "We get little support for recruitment and infrastructure, so the numbers keep going down. It’s a double-edged sword."
Cricket NSW’s manager of community cricket, Ivan Spyrdz, "came to us and drew a circle on a board with a dot in the middle," Gray recalls. "That dot was the 10 per cent of the population playing cricket. He drew a line through that and said that the strategy was to chase the 90 per cent who are not playing."
"What that has led to is throwing aside the core and neglect of the game at club level. It would be much better hearing from our governing body on how they are going to solve the problem of decline, instead of them telling us how the game is growing based on these other numbers that are not actual competition cricket."

A recent letter from a regional cricket association chairman to Mr Spyrdz drew attention to recruitment problems and rising costs for cricketers and families. Cricket NSW had just appointed 34 new community positions which the chairman did not think addressed the problem. Millions of sponsor dollars from Woolworths, McDonald’s and Commonwealth Bank for grassroots cricket, he wrote, were not reaching the intended target.
Mr Spyrdz replied that Cricket NSW’s data showed participation increasing, in contradiction of administrators’ experience, and suggested the problem was theirs. "If you are having communication issues, it appears that that may sit with you and those you are communicating with as there are many within your own cricket community … who appear to be across what is happening. I respectfully disagree we show no respect to volunteers we work with in the community."
 
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legend166

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I stopped playing about 8 years ago. I played senior club cricket (just on astroturf, nothing special) in Sydney for I think 6 seasons from 15 to 21 (and played juniors before then for about 5 years).

There's honestly nothing better than being in a cricket team during the high school/uni years. I loved it. Time for multiple net sessions during the week and not a great deal of responsibilities so it didn't matter your whole Saturday got wiped out.

But then everyone gets a full time job and it all changes. Now I'm 30 with two kids and I couldn't even imagine just telling my wife I'd be busy every Saturday for six months of the year. I imagine the ever growing Saturday as a work day thing would be impacting it too.
 

t_94

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Why do you think that is?

Cricket used to be played in the low socio economic areas too. In Adelaide a club Salisbury (northern working class area) were the strongest club 80s and 90s. Themselves and another club Southern Districts (also working class) were the two strongest clubs as far as producing junior players for state squads as recently as the late 90s. Both had their own thriving local hard wicket competitions too with junior and senior grades. But it's all dried up and those two clubs are now perenially weak.
Yeah I don't have the answers there. Maybe to do with pathways becoming more structured, more emphasis on structured coaching etc at a young age, rather than letting kids play and the cream rising to the top. Requires more money otherwise risk falling behind? Just a guess.
 
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Yeah I don't have the answers there. Maybe to do with pathways becoming more structured, more emphasis on structured coaching etc at a young age, rather than letting kids play and the cream rising to the top. Requires more money otherwise risk falling behind? Just a guess.
It does seem that way.

Was once a game of the people. Now is akin to piano lessons.
 
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Cricket Victoria raved about these competitions they played in schools called 'Kanga 8s' or something similar.

Basically a school lightning carnival. Schools enter teams, they all bus into the local oval, they cram multiple mini ovals on the big oval and they churn through 4 games in a few hours. Kids get a day off school. A few photos for the school newsletters. At the bigger venues they'd have 30, 40, 50 teams competing.

The beauty of it was that because the kids played four matches they counted on the census as a participant. These carnivals were played across multiple age groups and the numbers were huge. Cricket Australia got wind of this little scheme and were so enamoured with it that the concept was spread to all of Australia. Was re-badged as "T20 Blast School Cups" or something similar.

A quick, simple way of inflating participation numbers.

Don't have to go to all the trouble of growing clubs, developing players or finding week-in, week-out participants. That's too hard.
 

eddiesmith

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Interesting, but if they are going to do this, then they should be manually checking every code! Plenty of other sports would have players with multiple registrations. I know I’m on MyCricket with 3 different teams last year!

My main club added a team last year and a vets team the year before so our numbers have been rising! My old club peaked at 8 senior teams, had 7 for a while and now been at 6 for last few years. Biggest thing I’ve noticed is a lack of commitment, far more players who don’t want to commit to a whole season and will regularly miss games.

Our league has decided to expand split innings cricket this year as they believe that’s the key because people don’t want to field for 70 overs. If it goes through, I’m going elsewhere
 

Ishikawa

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My club in the country and the league overall is doing it tough, definite evidence of that gap Drugs Are Bad Mackay? mentions - was always there to some extent but does appear to be more so and a trend much bigger than cricket. Was never quite as parochial or as serious as footy in the town, but still a significant part of the culture. Think the juniors still go ok on Friday arvo's and Saturday mornings.

City wise, the club I played at was of pretty high socio-economic area but does seem to be going strongly at all levels so difficult to truly assess.

Loved cricket, but working commitments & career took priority. I miss it, but genuinely free time is so precious now. In saying that still manage to waste an hour or two just browsing bigfooty every day 🤦‍♂️
 

Gough

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The experience of Warner and Smith's ban is an interesting one. Two Test players playing at club level gave a real boost to the clubs and a great learning experience for the players that played both with and against them. Perhaps if Cricket Australia allowed their players back to the grass roots level on weekends where they aren't required for first class cricket we'd see an uptake in spectators and participants. I'm not sure how that would help participation in sub grade cricket but it would probably improve the quality of players coming out of the grade set up.
 

Kyptastic

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The experience of Warner and Smith's ban is an interesting one. Two Test players playing at club level gave a real boost to the clubs and a great learning experience for the players that played both with and against them. Perhaps if Cricket Australia allowed their players back to the grass roots level on weekends where they aren't required for first class cricket we'd see an uptake in spectators and participants. I'm not sure how that would help participation in sub grade cricket but it would probably improve the quality of players coming out of the grade set up.
It's a good idea, but how many weekends are available these days with a two month long Big Bash, 10 weeks of First class games plus the One Day comp where players a free to go back to their clubs?
 

PhatBoy

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Our town is 40,000. We have 4 grades, firsts, seconds, pres cup which has requirements on team make-up (at least 4 under 16s and 4 over 18s), and Thirsty thirds.

Team numbers have dropped, our club couldn’t field a first grade side last season and is talking about merging our 5-6 first graders with another struggling club for this summer. The nearest similar sized town has been trying to merge the two towns first grade comps into one for a decade - it used to be a twin town comp, then it got split and our towns rep sides started to thrash theirs.

The strong clubs here are fine, the ones that have a footy club affiliation or those who have no problems raping the smaller clubs of their up and comers. We absolutely ******* despise one other club because they just continually pick up players that we have put work into. It’s killing our club because old cvntz like me can’t play well anymore
 
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