Women running to play cricket in record numbers
WOMEN cricketers are lifting the sport to new heights in Australia as the sport's governing body here registers record numbers of participants.
A boom in female players this year has helped Cricket Australia to register record numbers of participants.
Females now account for 30 per cent of cricket participation around the country.
A Cricket Australia report said while the number of male players had dipped 4.4 per cent, the number of females had soared by 14 per cent.
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said he was buoyed by the level of female involvement and hoped more girls would be inspired to pull on the pads.
Cricket's goal is to become the leading female sport in the country.
"As the No. 1 team in the world, Australia's female cricketers are the best role models anyone interested in playing the game could wish for,'' Mr Roberts said.
"These numbers are unprecedented and such growth in the game is great to see.''
The improving men's team, now enjoying success in the World Cup, was also spurring a new generation of players.
The sporting body said 1.65 million Aussies were involved in registered cricket programs in 2018-19 - a 6 per cent increase.
"Australia's national teams are a great source of inspiration for people of all ages and backgrounds playing the game," Mr Roberts said.
"It's great to see the men's team in form and we hope this success continues into the Ashes campaign in August and September.
"Through their actions they're uniting and inspiring more Australians to get involved in the game, which we hope continues to even greater levels in the season ahead."
The report follows a turbulent 18 months for Australian cricket after the suspensions of David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft over the ball-tampering scandal.
Cricket Australia said it was pitching to children and had enjoyed a boost from its schools programs.
Community cricket acting executive manager Kieran McMillan said there were 960,000 students playing the game at schools, which provided "a great foundation for the future generation of players".
At a senior men's level, Mr McMillan said the declining number of players was part of a broader trend impacting all organised sports.
He added Cricket Australia was "working hard to reverse this" through extra grassroots support.
GAME GROWING AT A GREAT PACE
A steady stream of girls is defying the winter chill to line up and take turns to bowl at the
nets at Fairbairn Park in Ascot Vale.
The cricket season is four months away but pre-season is in full swing.
Co-ordinator of the female competition for the North West Metropolitan Cricket Association Sonja Viehl said the state of the game for junior girls was a world away from when they started four years ago when a group of 10 to 15 girls would turn up for a casual hit.
The competition has put the runs on the board at an impressive pace, growing by about 100 new players each year and expanding to teams from under-11s to under-15s.
"The first time I did the competition, we used to meet each other on the day," Ms Viehl said.
"Now you've got to make a selection, there are tryouts.
"Young people love to be involved, it's very much just giving the girls a chance to play and make those friendships and connections."