Canberra, Aug 23 (IANS) The rise in popularity of Australia’s domestic Big Bash League (BBL) Twenty20 tournament and the growing interest in the women’s game has propelled cricket to become the nation’s most popular participation sport.
On Tuesday, Cricket Australia (CA) revealed that record numbers of Australians picked up the bat and ball in 2015-16, including a record number of women, with almost 25 per cent of all participants being female, reports Xinhua.
The National Cricket Census, compiled by CA, found that 1,311,184 people played cricket across Australia in 2015-16, an 8.5 per cent increase on 2014-15, while female participation rates increased by 9 percent to 314,936 players.
CA chief executive officer James Sutherland said the growth and interest associated with both the male and female versions of the Big Bash League had pushed growth in cricket participation.
“The Big Bash League rose to unprecedented levels of popularity in its fifth year, with an average audience of more than 1 million Australians tuning in to watch the tournament on Network Ten and a record breaking 1,030,495 people attending matches,” Sutherland said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Women’s Big Bash League also achieved impressive results in just its first season. We were able to demonstrate a viable pathway for girls and women to pick up a bat and ball and take up cricket as a professional sport.”
Sutherland added that he expects the figures to grow again over the 2016/17 summer as the Big Bash League prepares to enter its sixth year.
“Cricket is clearly the sport of choice for many Australians and we’re proud to be billed as one of the biggest participation sports in the country,” Sutherland said.
“As another exciting summer approaches, we continue to be focused on growing our sport and inspiring Australians from all walks of life to pick up a bat and ball and play cricket.”