Cricket Australia CEO concedes club cricket decline in open letter to players and volunteers

File image: Kevin Roberts.File image: Kevin Roberts.

Cricket Australia chief executive officer Kevin Roberts has admitted club cricket is in “gradual decline”.

Journalist Malcolm Knox recently challenged Cricket Australia’s annual cricket census figures, which traditionally report an increase in participation. Knox, however, publicly suggested CA over-inflated the figures.

Challenge for Cricket Australia in ‘ time-poor society’

“While I disagree with the conclusions reached and the figures provided by Malcolm, what came through clearly to me was the sense that some within the cricket community don’t feel they are being heard,” wrote Roberts in open letter to all registered club players and volunteers around Australia.

“We acknowledge that the number of registered players in traditional club environments has experienced a gradual decline over the past few years, even though total cricket participation continues to grow at a healthy rate.

“Cricket clubs, like all club sport, face retention challenges in an increasingly time-poor society. As a volunteer, I also appreciate that leading a cricket club is becoming harder and new volunteers are not always lining up to help the club stalwarts. The commitment to supporting volunteers and making sure the game has a successful and sustainable future is one of Australian cricket’s top priorities under my leadership.

“I understand it will take more than a letter from me to make everything better. It’s on me to lead ongoing consultation and action from all of us at Cricket Australia and the State and Territory Cricket Associations who serve their communities.

“We need to maximise the impact of the millions of dollars we’ve committed to improving community cricket facilities and the 68 new community cricket staff employed by State and Territory Cricket Associations to support clubs and volunteers.”

Drop of 30,000

ESPNcricinfo recently published a detailed breakdown of CA’s club participation figures. The analysis revealed a three-year decline in club cricket numbers, from almost 400,000 players in 2016 to under 370,000 in 2019.