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Cricket Australia exposed for exaggerating participation figures
Long suspected of exaggerating its participation figures, Cricket Australia has been exposed for claiming that 1.65 million Australians participate in the sport annually.
An investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald has suggested that cricket, like other major sports, has “two sets of numbers when it comes to how many players they have … one is the participation rate, and the other is the actual number of players.”
Against a backdrop of a falling number of clubs and teams and people involved in the cricket community at club and school level seeing registrations in decline, the Sydney Morning Herald has exposed Cricket Australia’s rising ‘participation’ figures, advising that the national sporting organisation “does not know the real number of players (playing the game, which) is to its advantage: it can tell its stakeholders that it has a rising participation rate and boost the value of its product.”
The Sydney Morning Herald report advises “the problem is, the participation rate is a fiction. Since last year, Cricket Australia has moved its counting in-house; it was previously calculated by the Victorian research firm Street Ryan, which devised the ‘Australian Cricket Census’ in 2002. Through that process, a database called MyCricket was set up, in which cricketers who registered either online or manually received a unique ID number.
“Moving the counting in-house at a problematic time has been like a student taking over the job of marking their own homework.
“Cricket Australia has always known what people at the grassroots know: that the number of people playing cricket was considerably lower than the participation rate.”
Looking in to Cricket Australia figures of 1.65 million total participants and 684,356 registered players, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the number of unique cricketers playing during the past two years is 247,060.
It cites double-counting, giving the example of the most-frequently occurring cricket-playing name in Australia, Manpreet Singh, who when he joins a team is noted as one player.
However, when Singh is promoted a grade, he becomes listed as a second player. When he get picked in a representative team, he becomes a third player.
When he joins a Sunday competition, a midweek T20 competition and a winter league, suddenly this one Singh is six registered players. Then the association his club is part of counts him again, and sometimes the umpires’ association does as well.
Advising that Singh is now eight players, the Sydney Morning Herald adds “we know it is the same Manpreet Singh because of his unique player ID. This has happened with thousands of cricketers, and some of them were counted more than 10 times each.”
Another component in Cricket Australia’s “1.65 million Australians” is school children in physical education classes where cricket is played. Cricket Australia estimates this number at more than 950,000, but these participants are undocumented in MyCricket and Cricket Australia admits that the estimate is imprecise.
Cricket Australia draws its major funding – from television broadcast rights and sponsorship – partly on the basis of its claim that 1.65 million Australians play cricket. It also draws Government funding on the basis of this participation rate.
Cricket Australia is not alone in exaggerating its figures.
In 2016, AFL revealed that 3.2 million Australians – roughly one in eight of the population – had participated in the game in 2015.
At the time, Australasian Leisure Management was the only media to question those figures.
30th April 2019 - Latest Ausplay survey shows gradual increase in physical activity
11th January 2018 - Cricket Australia and Milo end 25 year sponsorship of junior game
17th November 2017 - New AusPlay figures show football leads sport participation rates in Australia
20th September 2017 - Cricket Australia reports record participation numbers
2nd August 2017 - Cricket Australia and players’ union reach landmark pay deal
4th January 2016 - AFL claims massive growth in participation in 2015
7th July 2014 - Cricket Australia advances national facility guidelines
30th August 2013 - Record numbers playing cricket
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