Cricket Australia fears pandemic will create missing generation of players – Michmutters

Cricket Australia fears pandemic will create missing generation of players

Cricket Australia is worried a pandemic-induced dive in the number of first-time cricketers could lead to a “missing generation” of kids taking up the sport around the nation.

Its annual cricket census for 2021-22 has revealed a 10 per cent drop in participants in the organisation’s Blast programme, largely caused by closures to centers in major cities as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“It’s absolutely something that is a worry for us,” James Allsop, who heads up the community arm of Cricket Australia, said.

“It’s something we are mobilizing around as part of the new strategy that we’re about to launch in the next couple of years.”

A year of new, young cricketers have been lost, according to Allsop, and cricketing authorities are desperate to ensure it does not happen again for fear of losing a generation of budding batters, bowlers and fielders.

“We’ve lost one year. I’m really confident we’re not going to lose two years,” Allsop said.

“But we might have lost some kids as six-year-olds but we can get them back as a seven-year-old.”

Allsop pointed to Cricket Australia data which underscores the importance of attracting first-time cricketers at a young age.

Ninety per cent of participants play for the first time before the age of 12, according to the data, and, last year, 70 per cent started before the age of nine.

“Cricket is probably unique from other sports in that you do have to come in at an early age to develop those skills,” he said.

A group of junior cricketers pose before a match
The cricket census paints a positive picture on the whole. (Getty Images: Kelly Barnes)

First-timers aside, the cricket census paints a positive picture, in spite of more than two years of disruptions to community sport.

Club cricket has grown. Junior club registrations rose by 5 per cent on the year prior, and six per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Senior club registrations have risen, too, by 5 per cent.

The number of girls registered for junior club cricket lifted too on pre-COVID levels.

A big reason the sport has been able to grow despite the pandemic is timing. Winter sports like AFL and NRL were hit harder by state-based lockdowns.


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