Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria have joined other sports in celebrating International Women's Day and what has been a stellar 12-months that has seen women's cricket move closer than ever to becoming Australia's favourite sport and a mainstream sport for women and girls.
This summer proved there is a strong demand for women's sport in Australia, with more people than ever before attending and watching cricket on the Nine Network and Network Ten. More than 121,000 fans attended matches during the second edition of the Rebel WBBL.
Recent highlights for Victorian women's cricket:
• Former Australian and VicSpirit player Mel Jones inducted into the Victorian Women's Honour Roll
• Current Australian and Victorian captain Meg Lanning scored a record 10th international century in just 57 games
• Victorian spinner Molly Strano made her international debut in the T20INTL series against New Zealand
• An average of 239,000 fans watched each Rebel WBBL match on Network Ten
• The Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades took women's cricket into regional areas with official fixtures held in Albury and Bendigo respectively.
• Sophie Molineux, Alana King, Hayleigh Brennan and Makinley Blows all made their VicSpirit state debuts during the WNCL season
The ongoing support of the Nine Network meant the Australia public could also follow their favourite Rebel WBBL stars on the international stage, with all three of the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars' double-header matches against New Zealand broadcast live on Nine's primary channel.
The growing popularity of women's cricket at the highest level over the past 12 months has had a positive flow on effect at all levels of the game. Women and girls made up almost a quarter of the 1.3 million people registered as playing cricket in Australia during 2015-16, an 9% increase on the previous year, and the continued growth of women's cricket is likely to lead to similar participation results for 2016-17.
Announced in July last year, Cricket Australia's Growing Cricket for Girls Fund has proven to be an instant hit in its first summer, with more than 500 girls' teams joining more than 40 new girls' competitions as a result of the funding boost.
A $4 million investment over four years (with $500,000 going directly to clubs, associations and secondary schools each year to grow female cricket), the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund received a further boost in August, when a huge response from the cricket community prompted CA to commit another $500,000 over the first 12 months.
Victoria has seen support for new Girls Cricket Leagues reach record levels this season.
With additional support from principal partner Commonwealth Bank, the total investment in Growing Cricket for Girls is now $6m over the four years, with the fund forming a part of the landmark agreement between Cricket Australia and the Commonwealth Bank centred on women and diversity initiatives in cricket.
It was another big season for women's cricket on the field as well, with our top international and domestic cricketers demonstrating their enormous talents four-time Australian Women's Cricketer of the Year, Shelley Nitschke was part of history when she took Australia's inaugural international female indigenous squad to India in May, with the team's captain, Ashleigh Gardner, becoming just the second indigenous woman to play cricket for Australia when she made her debut in the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars' series against New Zealand.
Entering the summer as the number one ranked team in the world, the Southern Stars recorded comprehensive series victories against Sri Lanka and South Africa on their way to claiming the inaugural ICC Women's Championship and becoming the first team to qualify for the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup in the UK.
08 MARCH, 2017 | Game Development