Queensland Cricket recorded a 25.9 percent increase in Woolworths Cricket Blast numbers, the entry level formats that continue to prove popular for girls and boys starting out in the game.

The number of girls registering to play again climbed in Queensland, making up a quarter of all Blast participants.

Queensland recorded the highest increase in Australia for the numbers of girls participating in Cricket Blast programs with a increase of 63% on 2019-20 registrations, with the influence of the successful WBBL Brisbane Heat and the Women’s National Cricket League champion Queensland Fire team providing strong role models across the state.

Nationally, the rising popularity of cricket with girls continued with a 17.5% increase in girls registering for club and Woolworths Cricket Blast participation, aided by the success of Australia’s World Champion Women’s Team, The Next Innings program, and local initiatives such as Queensland Cricket’s ‘That’s My Game’ and ColourBlast programs.

The inevitable impact of the pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of many tournaments, competitions and leagues led to an overall year-on-year decline in registered participation of 24% across all cricket nationally from 710,000 to 539,000.

The Census only includes formal participants in organised competitions and programs. It does not include participants in cricket activities which do not meet a minimum program requirement of four weeks/games duration.

For the first time, the annual Census process also featured the inaugural National Player and Volunteer Survey.

The Survey indicated volunteers had a strong satisfaction with their roles (+30 Net Promoter Score) while 89% of players surveyed expressed satisfaction with their overall experience.

Queensland Cricket CEO Terry Svenson said the effort of the game’s volunteers to safeguard cricket in their local communities could not be understated.

“We thank all of the individuals who came together during the past 12 months to attract new players and retain their existing members because that effort has delivered a significant result for cricket,’’ he said.

“Queensland was fortunate in some instances in havinge a relatively ‘normal’ summer for many of its competitions, although areas of the game like organised school cricket and indoor cricket were impacted significantly due to the restrictions that have been introduced to deal with the pandemic,’’ he said.

“We may have lost some competitions, but the numbers indicate that people are still positive about participating and playing the game.

“The first volunteer and player survey produced heartening feedback and will push us to improve in a number of areas that help our clubs and volunteers keep the game at the heart of local communities.”

Svenson said Queensland Cricket would continue to invest in infrastructure and participation initiatives as well as maintain current funding levels to its affiliates and associations for the 2021-22 season.

“It’s been very encouraging to see the numbers of girls who are signing up to play cricket continue to flourish. We will look to enhance successful programs and partnerships such as That’s My Game’ and ColourBlast programs that are aimed specifically at getting women and girls to play in Queensland.

Svenson said there would be an increased focus in areas such as multicultural and Indigenous cricket, where QC looked to build on recent successful initiatives.

“Our partnership with the South West Indigenous Network saw 11 Cricket Blast programs run in Indigenous communities in southern Queensland and there is scope for us to build on that. There are some exciting initiatives in multi-cultural cricket as well that we are keen to implement in 2021-22.”

Svenson said the ‘traditional’ strongholds of the game such as organized junior and senior club cricket in metropolitan and regional areas would also benefit from a renewed focus to regenerate playing numbers that had been affected by the pandemic.

The 2020-21 Australian Cricket Census is the 20th annual audit of Australian cricket participation. The Census has become an important measure for Community Cricket, setting targets and monitoring successes and trends for the longā€term enhancement of Australian cricket.

The Census is compiled by the Community Cricket department at Cricket Australia and each State and Territory Cricket Association, and an independent validation of the process and results is conducted by Street Ryan Consulting.