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State of Cricket in Australia Part 1.

It is fair to say the last 12 months have been an interesting time in Australia Cricket. However it has not been in a good way, despite the recent win against South Africa in Adelaide and strong showing against Pakistan in Brisbane.

Of course it is also a time of transition in all forms of the game for Australia, so in some ways when looking at the state of the nation for Cricket results alone should not be used to make the judgement.

Overlaying the transition phase for the National team is the juggernaut known as the Big Bash league. By any measure the Big Bash is a huge success on many levels, though it does have its issues we will look at a bit later in this series.

We will start our review at the top looking at Cricket Australia and then down through the National Teams, State Cricket and then the Big Bash. For ease we break it down into a three part series, with each focusing on just the one issue.

As you might expect with a review, it needs to have a question or purpose. For us that is “Does the current structure of cricket in Australia, serve the purpose of supporting the various national teams and most importantly the test team”.

So without further delay lets get underway and have a look at Cricket Australia (CA) and the structure of cricket in Australia.

In its 2015/16 Annual Report CA notes that the highlights of the year was 1M BBL attendance for the last season, Southern Stars topped the ICC Ranking, Cricket was #1 in sports participation and there had been 9% growth in females playing.

At first blush all pretty good and you would think that cricket is in a pretty good way.

Offsetting that though is the drop in the ranking for the men's teams that at the time of the report saw them ranked three, one and five in Tests, One Day and T20 cricket.

CEO James Sutherland in his CEO’s report noted that financially the game is also doing well with a $9.7M surplus for the year ended June 2015. We will come back to that number shortly.

Addressing a need to improve on field performance he notes that away form in particular is an area we must improve. As he notes we have now lost 9 tests in a row in ASIA and have not won an Ashes series in England since 2001.

In terms of the future he notes that participation is up 8.5% overall and stands at 1.311M and match attendance was to 1.727M.

However I am somewhat sceptical of the claim that their research that Australian’s passion for the sport is more than other sport. The heads of the AFL, NRL and the A-League in particular may wish to contest that.

My sense is that the passion is in fact down some, though to be fair that is often the case when results are not as great as some remember from the recent past.

He rightly also notes the giant strides made in women playing the game and providing a more reasonable level of payments and leading the way in that area. Of course the challengers are about to come on that front with the AFL in particular looking to launch its female league and attract the top talented females to the game.

As noted earlier the surplus for 2015/16 stood at $9.7M. Clearly that is a good number however a look at the financial report and in particular expenditure from operating activities is of particular interest.

The two numbers I want to focus on are Game and Market Development ($13.735M) and Media, Communications and Marketing (34.868M).

When I first heard these numbers given by Peter Lalor from the Australian, in an interview on Radio SEN in Melbourne, I couldn’t believe them.

Don’t get me wrong I can understand that the marketing number might be bigger but 2 and half times! This is an issue that Cricket Australia really needs to address and explain why and in my view quickly seek to rebalance.

It should be noted that the Development number was up on the prior number of $11.560M.

As an aside it doesn't seem cash flow is a problem with the net increase in the cash position being $117.957M for the year.

So moving down from CA and all those financial numbers, what about the state of the game at the state level and its role in providing the next batch of Australian players. That will be the focus of our second article in this three part series.

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