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How popular is cricket?

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“Undoubtedly an exciting and strong position from which we can drive the sport forward,” is how International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive David Richardson reacted to the results of a worldwide survey released three days back.

In what was described as “the largest-ever market research project into the sport,” it reveals cricket has over one billion fans globally, the average age of which is 34 with a demographic breakdown of 61% male and 39% female. The surveyed age category was 16-69.

Meanwhile, Australians don’t seem to show much interest in the game, particularly after the happenings earlier this year to the ball tampering incident involving both the captain and the vice-captain. More recently Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland announced his resignation in one year’s time from the post which he held for the past 17 years. The authorities have emphatically denied any relationship to the resignation and the ball tampering incident. The public seem to feel it is not so.

The recent tour to England being a disaster with Australia losing all five ODIs played may create more problems for Cricket Aystralia.

As for the popularity of the game, the Cricket Australia CEO’s last annual report covering the year 2016-17 stated that participation in cricket had grown from 1.1 million to a new record of 1.4 million. Women and girls represent 27.5% of the total, an increase of 25% over the previous year.

As for match attendance, it was claimed that an all-time record was set with an attendance record of around two million.

Cricket in Australia boasts of a record of 215 years, the first match having been played in Sydney in December 1803.

The ICC research does not indicate any leading preference by fans in Australia to any form of the game. “Close to 70% fans are interested in Test cricket with fans in England and Wales showing the strongest interest in this format (86%), South Africa lead the interest in ODI cricket (91%) and Pakistan in T20I cricket (98%). Globally, T20I is the most popular format with 92% interest whilst ODIs are close with 88% interest,” the ICC release said.

Two-thirds of fans over the age of 16 years who were interviewed showed interest in all three international formats of the game. The importance and popularity of ICC global events was evident with 95% of fans interested or very interested, with the ICC Cricket World Cup and the ICC World T20 the most popular.

The survey indicated that the women’s game continues to gain momentum with two-thirds of cricket fans being interested in women’s cricket (68%) and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup (65%) while 70% of fans wanting to see more live coverage of women’s cricket.

The research was undertaken to enable the ICC and its Members to understand the growth potential of cricket, to help shape the development of the growth focused global strategy for the game, drive decision making and to provide a benchmark upon which to measure the outcomes of the strategy. It also supports the ICC and its Members in shaping and implementing their fan engagement strategies and clearly presents cricket as a vibrant and popular sport globally.

Cricket’s first global market research was conducted between November 2017 and January 2018 by Nielsen Sports and comprised over 19,000 interviews around the world including over 6,600 in-depth interviews with cricket fans aged 16-69 years.

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