AN ever-increasing number of junior females are picking up a bat or ball and taking to the pitch in NSW and the ACT.
As a result, record levels of participation in cricket were recorded in 2016.
In figures released recently, participation in the 12 months through April grew 11 per cent to 393,082 participants across the major categories of club cricket, indoor cricket, school competitions and entry level programs.
Some of the largest growth was seen in junior girls cricket (Under-13 to Under-17) which grew by 30 per cent and in the MILO T20 Blast format (boys and girls) which experienced a 97 per cent increase in participants from the year before.
Cricket NSW Mid North Coast development manager Martin Garoni said the influence of the Women’s Big Bash was one of many reasons for the increase in participants.
“Competitions like the WBBL are putting cricket front and centre for the girls and now the sport has a similar pathway to the top as what the boys have got as well,” he said.
“You have to go to high-level basketball and netball to see other sports who have a similar setup; not many of them can do that.”
Garoni said players such as Sydney Sixers duo Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy along with Melbourne Stars superstar Meg Lanning were all perfect role models for junior girls.
Competitions like the WBBL are putting cricket front and centre for the girls.Martin Garoni
An increase in coverage on television has also helped grow the women’s game.
“Ellyse, Alyssa and Meg are all well-spoken and when they played up in Coffs Harbour a few weeks ago they were signing autographs for half an hour to 45 minutes after the game,” he said.
“They know their role in the game.”
The development manager was confident the women’s game would continue to grow in coming years.
“We all know girls are more social than the boys and if you get one girl you usually get her to bring a friend or two along and that’s what we want,” Garoni said.
“The girls love the camaraderie that comes with playing sport and playing cricket these days.
The level of increase doesn’t surprise me; I’d prefer to say it’s very pleasing and we’re pleasantly excited about what the increase can mean for the sport.Martin Garoni
“We’re looking to launch the Sixers girls cricket league in February which will be an eight-a-side competition where all the girls bat and bowl and will be played over three Sunday’s.”
However, he wasn’t surprised at the increase in popularity.
“The level of increase doesn’t surprise me; I’d prefer to say it’s very pleasing and we’re pleasantly excited about what the increase can mean for the sport.
“We had a Sixers clinic in Coffs Harbour recently and the boys made a comment about the fact there weren’t any girls there.
“That shows the girls are almost expected to be playing cricket these days.”