Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind football. The 2011 world cup final between India and Sri Lanka was watched by 560 million people worldwide. With three different formats of cricket, the game should appeal to a wide audience. However, in the UK, participation has fallen dramatically in recent years.
The Active People Survey (2016) conducted by Sport England analysed participation rates of 34 sports. Cricket showed the 5th largest decrease with a fall in 12% of players. Furthermore, the number of adults that play cricket every week is less than a tenth of the number that plays football weekly. These figures show the size of the problem that cricket faces. There are several causes of this, namely; access to facilities, time to play and cultural barriers. At BatFast we recognise these problems and hope to solve them, by making the sport more accessible.
Access to facilities
One of the main barriers to participation is the lack of quality facilities at grassroots level. The National Cricket Playing Survey (2014) found that more than two-fifths of South Asians are dissatisfied with playing opportunities in the UK. Some cricket clubs often lack the most basic training equipment such as nets. Without nets available, the opportunity to practise cricket simply isn’t there. Therefore, more needs to be done to make cricket accessible and inclusive to the ever-changing society we live in.
BatFast works with cricket charities such as Lords Taverners and Chance to Shine to help provide opportunities to play cricket for as many different people as possible, with the hope of spreading the benefits of the sport. This summer alone we have taken part in over a hundred events across the UK.
For clubs that do have good training facilities, participation may still be falling due to the length of cricket matches. In the 21st century, our society is extremely time conscious. But most cricket matches take up the majority of the day and don’t fit in well with people’s social schedules. By contrast, football matches take no more than 90 minutes. People often work weekends which means even if they wanted to play cricket they can’t dedicate their whole Saturday to it. From a personal experience, I stopped playing cricket regularly when I was 16. At this age, I moved into adult teams, but this meant longer matches that were played at weekends. Therefore, one of the reasons participation has decreased is because the time it takes to play a cricket match does not fit well within modern society.
However, our cricket simulators allow greater flexibility with your time. You don’t have to rely on training with other players as our simulators can be used individually. This means whenever you have the time you can practise. You can also develop your game quicker than through normal practice as you have a guaranteed quality of bowling to test you as a batsman.
Another cause of falling participation levels is the cultural barriers associated with cricket. In the UK cricket is traditionally seen as a sport dominated by white males. This perception is a problem as it can stop people from other demographics playing because they fear social exclusion. For example, some girls may view cricket as a ‘boys sport’. This stigma can put them off taking part. The ECB has recognized these cultural barriers and hopes to address them through the Cricket Unleashed strategy. Cricket Unleashed hopes to promote a “game wide philosophy of inclusivity”.
BatFast also works to help break down cultural barriers. We carry out events in all types of communities as we want to show that cricket can be played by anyone no matter your age, ethnicity or gender.
Our vision as a company is to increase participation in sport. We work tirelessly to help make cricket accessible to everyone. Contact us if you would like to be part of the solution to falling participation levels in cricket.
Click here to find out more about what our simulators can offer.