The Bupa Sheffield Shield Final starting in Brisbane today will bring to an end one of the most successful on and off-field cricket seasons in Australian cricket history, according to Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland.
A clean sweep of the Vodafone Test Series versus India, a thrilling climax to the Commonwealth Bank Series, a tense last round of the Bupa Sheffield Shield which had four state sides jostling for the right to play in the final and successful launch of the new eight-side KFC T20 Big Bash League two years ahead of the original schedule were among the season’s highlights.
The women’s team, the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars, now touring India, also had as successful Rose Bowl campaign against traditional rivals, New Zealand.
Off-field, record numbers of children enrolled in entry level cricket, record numbers played formal organised cricket at a community level and, over a full year, more Australians watched cricket than any other sport.
Spectator attendances at matches were outstanding. In terms of aggregate crowds for international and domestic cricket, 2011-12 was the second highest attendance on record.
Mr Sutherland said the public excitement about cricket was a tribute to international, state and BBL players in particular and their success was in turn helped by off-field talent identification, development and coaching throughout Australia.
But while Australian cricket is well poised to cement its claim to be Australia’s favourite sport, Cricket Australia also acknowledges there is a long way to go before number one world status in all formats is achieved.
“The Australian Team Performance Review, widely known as the Argus Review, and our own new Australian cricket strategic plan, both have number one world rankings as targets and there is a way to go before we achieve that or are ready to take back the Ashes or the 2015 ICC World Cup,” he said.
“In particular, our immediate on-field performance focus is on Argus Report recommendations for a tightly integrated, national approach to high performance talent identification, development and selection and Pat Howard, recruited late last year, and his team at the restructured Centre of Excellence are working closely with the states.
“Additionally, Pat and his negotiating team are working with the Australian Cricketers’ Association on the complex negotiation of a new MOU which we hope can further incentivise national high performance objectives”.
However, it was also appropriate to pause and celebrate significant 2011-12 successes including:
- More Australians playing cricket than any other sport, with participation up 5.73% to 850,155.
- More children enrolling in MILO in2CRICKET entry level cricket, with preliminary figures suggesting a 20%-plus increase over the previous summer to almost 130,000 children in all.
- More Australians watching cricket than any other sport, with 7.8 million watching cricket, 7.6 million watching AFL and 6.9 million watching tennis (Morgan Research).
- 76.3% of the population watched some cricket this summer (OzTAM metro five capitals).
- Cricket being number one sport in terms of public interest and the Australian cricket team being Australia’s favourite team (Sweeney Research).
- A total of 1.482 million fans through the turnstiles in 2011-12, the second biggest ever attendance after the 1.619 million of 2006-07.
- Preliminary BBL figures showing the new KFC BBL strategy to attract new fans to cricket, particularly among young people and females, is working. More than 550,000 people attending matches during the season
BBL’s indicative figures suggest:
- A 83% increase in average TV viewership compared to 2010-11 (OzTAM)
- 43% of the audience is female (OzTAM)
- An 93% increase in children aged 12 and under watching (OzTAM)
- A 43% increase in young people aged 13-24 watching (OzTAM)
- Six sell outs, including a Perth Scorchers game that sold out in 16 minutes
- Two of the top six rating STV programs in history were BBL matches (OzTAM)
Mr Sutherland said CA was grateful to Australian fans for their continuing support of cricket nationally and also thanked players and staff throughout Australian cricket for their enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism supporting cricket from the grass roots through to its elite levels.