The flood of Big Bash League games in Canberra last summer has provided a massive boost to cricket in the ACT with record breaking numbers participating in school programs in Term 1.
Canberra hosted 13 BBL games at Manuka Oval during December and January as clubs, including Sydney Thunder and the title winning Sydney Sixers, were locked out of their home states due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
The 13 games constituted almost 25% of the entire competition being at a venue that would normally host two to three Thunder games a season. Additionally, Manuka Oval hosted both One Day International and T20 fixtures between Australia and India earlier in the season.
While these games provided unprecedented opportunities for fans to see elite cricket in Canberra, there was a significant amount of work done over summer to leverage off these games in the local community.
As part of the Thunder Nation, Sydney Thunder’s community and fan cohort in, the ACT community continued to increase their support for the Club and it is apparent that the growth to seven regular season and one final ‘home’ games for this BBL season has only deepened that connection.
This was never more evident than in ACT schools.
During a normal school year across the ACT there are about 24,000 participants - from Kindergarten to Year 12 in curriculum aligned programs such as Mascot Challenge, Health & PE, School Cups and Sporting Schools - recorded in Australian Cricket school programs.
The majority of each year’s school programs are delivered during Term 3 and early Term 4, with the ultimate aim to provide an access point and an encouragement for children to join their local cricket club for the start of the season.
Throughout the nine-week first Term of 2021 there were 57 programs delivered in 43 schools in the ACT of one or more of cricket’s four main programs. This equated to over 10,500 participants experiencing cricket throughout the Term. In comparison, less than 20 schools and 4,778 participants were involved in the corresponding Term 1 in 2020.
Programs were delivered by Cricket NSW staff or internally by teachers and School Ambassadors, the latter being something that has also increased.
Cricket NSW Area Manager, Southern NSW and ACT, Martin Gleeson, said it was a record-breaking Term for cricket in schools.
“On the back of our strong relationships with schools and the massive amount of elite cricket played locally over summer, Term 1 has proven to be the busiest on record,” Gleeson said.
“It is great that our premier cricket products like the men’s internationals and BBL can inspire kids to want to play and love cricket.
“Interestingly, only a very small percentage of these school participants were involved in School Cups, which are scheduled and delivered by staff. Most participants were involved in programs that have been teacher driven.
“This really goes a long way to towards achieving our vision of developing a cricket culture in schools.”
To get involved in a cricket club go to playcricket.com.au.