Melbourne, June 8: Although Australia’s women’s cricket team the Southern Stars is ranked number one in the world, only a small proportion of Aussie women 14+ play the sport, the latest findings from Roy Morgan reveal.
However, participation is inching up among women of most age groups, with 25-34 year-olds showing the most marked increase year on year.
In the 12 months to March 2016, 200,000 Australian women 14+ (2.0%) reported playing cricket either regularly or occasionally, a 22% increase on the same time last year (164,000).
Just over a quarter of the country’s female participants are aged between 25 and 34 years old: 51,000 now play the sport on a regular or occasional basis (up from 30,000 as of March 2015).
There was also moderate growth among teenage girls 14-17 years (from 41,000 to 47,000), young women aged between 18 and 24 years (40,000 to 48,000), and even older women 50+ (12,000 to 17,000).
In contrast, the 35-49 year-old bracket showed a slight decline in participation, from 41,000 to 37,000 women.
Overall, cricket is the thirtieth-most popular sport/exercise in terms of women’s participation, nipping at the heels of niche sports such as badminton, horse-riding, table tennis and snow-skiing, and sitting well behind favourites such as walking for exercise, swimming and hiking/bushwalking.
Southern Stars in training?
Meanwhile, 213,000 Australian girls aged 6-13 years play cricket. Although this is just 13,000 more than the number of women 14+ who participate in the game, it is much higher from a proportional perspective: 17.6% of Aussie girls 6-13 vs 2.0% of women 14+.
Cricket participation peaks among girls aged 10-11 years (24.9%), before dropping to 16.2% of 12-13 year-old girls.
Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says: “Women’s cricket participation rate is quite low in Australia, which seems a little surprising in light of the world-beating reputation of our national women’s team. Of course, the fact that it has long been a heavily male-dominated sport would also be a factor”.
“However the recent announcement of substantial pay rises for the Southern Stars reflects the growing esteem in which women’s cricket is now held.
“Add to this Bill Shorten’s promise to boost TV coverage of women’s sport on the ABC if the ALP win the Federal Election, and the future for women’s cricket could be bright,” thinks Norman Morris.
It is noteworthy that the number of Aussie women and girls who watch cricket on TV far exceeds their participation rate. More than 3 million women aged 14+ and 273,000 girls between 6 and 13 years watch the sport on TV.
This number is expected to grow if women’s cricket were to be broadcast on free-to-air TV rather than Pay TV.
“The challenge for cricket clubs and authorities would then be to capitalise on the increased TV exposure, converting it to increased participation, especially among the younger age groups – thereby guaranteeing the continued international success of Australian women’s cricket,” said Norman Morris.