NSW Cricket CEO: Are we worried about small Sheffield Shield attendances? Not at all

Andrew Jones Columnist

By Andrew Jones, Andrew Jones is a Roar Expert

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    Easter this year marks the official end of the New South Wales cricket season, with men’s and women’s seasons from Australian to grassroots level all complete.

    Of course, cricket never sleeps, with the IPL now in full swing, winter competitions starting up and numerous pathway programs commencing their winter training schedules. However, it is an opportune time to review cricket’s progress.

    The good news is we are tracking very well. 2016/17 was the most-attended season in the history of Australian cricket and 2017/18 – an Ashes year for both men and women – will almost certainly break that record.

    Meanwhile, all formats of men’s international cricket and the BBL consistently attract in excess of 1 million viewers for each minute broadcast and the Women’s Big Bash League is comfortably the top rating women’s sports league in the country – it outrates AFLW by about 25% on average.

    Big Bash League expansion, Virat Kohli’s return in 2018/19 and the men’s and women’s World T20s in 2020 should continue the momentum.

    This interest is translating to rapid growth at junior level.

    Participation in our Sixers and Thunder Girls’ Cricket Leagues has doubled again this year, propelled by the success of the WBBL and this year’s professionalisation of the NSW Breakers – the first fully professional domestic team in Australian women’s sport.

    Ellyse Perry batting Sydney Sixers WBBL

    Meanwhile, Australian cricket has piloted revolutionary new formats at the under-10s to under-13s level which will ensure boys and girls alike get a shorter, faster, more exciting and more engaging game experience that develops their skills faster.

    No longer will kids be standing around for hours in the sun while bowlers struggle to land the ball on the square and batters struggle to hit the ball off it.

    Instead, shorter pitches (16m and 18m), fewer fielders (seven or nine), and bowling only from one end will make for more accurate bowling, faster scoring and shorter match times.

    The parents who think cricket is too long and too boring will be brought back to the game via their kids, just as fans seeking more action in a shorter time period have been via the BBL.

    Sometimes people ask if we are worried about the lack of attendance at Shield cricket. Frankly, we are not. Fan interest is high but it is increasingly expressed through millions of minutes of live stream viewing. (Probably by people like me – at work!)

    And the primary role of the Shield is to develop players – preferably ones from New South Wales – for the Test team.

    I’m pleased to report that NSW has provided six to eight players in the men’s Test team for the bulk of the past couple of seasons, including every wicket-taker in the recent India series.

    We also expect to provide five or six of the starting XI in the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

    Again we expect this trend to continue. Up and coming men to watch out for in the coming seasons include middle order bats Kurtis Patterson and Ryan Gibson, and new ball bowler Henry Thornton (note: he is quick!). Looking a few years ahead again, Jason Sangha, Jack Edwards and Austin Waugh are all names to watch.

    On the women’s side, Rachel Trenaman, Mikayla Hinkley and Saskia Horley are improving rapidly and have big futures. New South Wales has won 18 of the 21 Women’s National Cricket League titles contested and both WBBL winners have been Sydney sides. We intend to keep it that way!

    Overall, Australian and NSW cricket are in good shape. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, however, and Australian cricket’s leaders need to continue to work hard to ensure cricket remains Australia’s favourite sport. We are confident it will, and indeed that the best is yet to come.

    Andrew Jones
    Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones has been the CEO of Cricket NSW since 2013, overseeing a successful period for the sport in the state which has seen Sydney-based clubs win both the BBL and WBBL and the NSW Breakers become the first fully professional women's sporting team in Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • April 18th 2017 @ 7:57am
      Baz said | April 18th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Sounds good that they are working on improving the game at the junior level.

      Good article.

      I do also follow shield cricket rarely go to a game though.

    • Roar Pro

      April 18th 2017 @ 9:46am
      Matthew Russell said | April 18th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Andrew, why isn’t Sheffield Shield played 90% in Regional areas? Crowds would be good. Teams could spend the week prior or a couple of days prior in schools promoting the game… seems like a no brainer

      • April 18th 2017 @ 10:10am
        A joke said | April 18th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        This has been tried.

        Not sure if plastic bat cricket is the answer. Kids now had a lot of other options, that is why not as many are playing the game.

        As for making NSW great again. We shall see, but Victoriawould be set for four Shields on end next season.

        To improve the Shield and get more interest, just make sure the test players are always playing. It has been relegated to being a developmental league. Selectors need to pick the best performing Shield players not going on hunches like they have been. This attitude by the selectors cost Australia the series win. Why was Chad Sayers not selected?

        • Columnist

          April 25th 2017 @ 9:36am
          Andrew Jones said | April 25th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          No chance of the Test players always playing – they can’t be in two places at once. Same for BBL.

          And yes kids and parents have more choice – hence the need to provide the best possible experience. This is about age-appropriate playing conditions. Why should small kids play on a pitch the same length as adults? Doesn’t happen in any football code to my knowledge and same principle applies in cricket. Same for number of players.

      • Columnist

        April 25th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Andrew Jones said | April 25th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Thanks Matthew. Short answer is that the SCG is the home of NSW cricket and players cherish playing there. Our policy is to play 4 x SCG and 1 x regional Shield games per year. We have played in Wagga Wagga, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and Wollongong in the past 3 seasons. All except Newcastle were new venues for Shield cricket and crowds peaked at about 2000 on the biggest day. Note that Albury Border Bash practice matches between Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars this year attracted nearly 10,000 fans so BBL is a huge attraction.

    • April 18th 2017 @ 11:44am
      qwetzen said | April 18th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      ” [NSW produced] every wicket-taker in the recent India series.”


      I thought Lyon moved to the ACT as a Young (groan) teenager and played all his early cricket in the ACT?

      CI profile says;
      ACT U17, ACT U19 & ACT.
      And he played club cricket in Canberra.

      Wouldn’t this make him a Canberran?

      • April 18th 2017 @ 12:09pm
        Bugaluggs said | April 18th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        Generally it’s where you are born. As in, you ain’t a true Londoner unless you are born within sound of the Bow bells.

        • April 18th 2017 @ 2:31pm
          qwetzen said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          In that case the statement is still false as O’Keefe was born in Malaysia…

          • April 20th 2017 @ 10:09am
            Bludger said | April 20th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

            Just because you were born in a barn it does not make you a horse.

      • April 18th 2017 @ 4:51pm
        Nudge said | April 18th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

        Moved to Canberra when he was 15 or 16 (pretty sure 16) so certainly more NSW’s than Canberren.
        It’s absolutely amazing that all wickets were taken by NSW’s players in India. They really are carrying Australian cricket. You certainly couldn’t count out them taking all the ashes wickets this summer with Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood Lyon and maybe Smith with his very occasional part timers. The first 3 batsmen picked will all be from NSW’s as well with Warner, Smith and Khawaja. Victoria have Handscomb Maxwell and Pattinson about. Qld, apart from Renshaw are giving bugga all when you look at the size of the place, same with WA, and SA my home state, have given virtually nothing since Gillespie retired 12 or more years ago.
        Possible ashes 11
        Warner (NSW’s)
        Khawaja (NSW’s)
        Smith (NSW’s)
        Starc (NSW’s)
        Hazlewood (NSW’s)
        They are certainly doing something very well there. Aus cricket would be a basket case without them.

        • April 19th 2017 @ 3:31pm
          qwetzen said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

          Nudge said some more silly things:

          Nathan Lyon is “more NSW” in exactly the same way that Brad Clyde was eligible to play SoO for NSW. (Not to mention Ricky Stuart)

          “It’s absolutely amazing that all wickets were taken by NSW’s players in India.”
          Golly gosh! Who would have thought that if you *only* pick NSW bowlers that NSW bowlers would take all the wickets! Astounding!
          And btw, NSW bowlers did *not* “take all wickets”. There were 19 that weren’t taken by *anyone*. You know [He said metaphorically], perhaps if some Other bowlers were selected instead then those wickets could have been taken and the series actually won instead of *lost*?

          “They [CNSW] are certainly doing something very well there. Aus cricket would be a basket case without them.”
          It’s escaped your tremendous powers of sledging that Aus has actually lost 3 of their last 4 Test series, including a Home loss and a 3-0 whitewash against the 7th ranked side.

          • April 19th 2017 @ 5:49pm
            Ben said | April 19th 2017 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

            Qwetzen, please shut up up. It’s becoming a real bore listening to your ramblings on this site.

          • April 19th 2017 @ 11:09pm
            Nudge said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:09pm | ! Report

            Qwetzen moaned
            Golly gosh! Who would have thought that if you *only* pick NSW bowlers that NSW bowlers would take all the wickets! Astounding!
            “And btw, NSW bowlers did *not* “take all wickets”. There were 19 that weren’t taken by *anyone*. You know [He said metaphorically], perhaps if some other bowlers were selected instead then those wickets could have been taken and the series actually won instead of *lost*?” Ok, so who should they have picked as spinners for India? Agar, or maybe Swepson in front of the 2 that averaged under 25 for the series? Funny. Who should have played instead of Starc, Hazlewood or Cummins? Bird maybe? Hang on he’s from NSW’s as well. Well well.
            But I’d thought I’d leave the best till last. “Nathan Lyon is “more NSW” in exactly the same way that Brad Clyde was eligible to play soO for NSW. ( Not to mention Ricky Stuart) ha switching sports now buddy. You really are battling. You do realise that Semi Radradra played for Fiji one year then was picked to play for Australia a year later. Ha you are an absolute classic

            • April 20th 2017 @ 2:55pm
              qwetzen said | April 20th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

              Ahhh. The Popular Breakfast Response. It has the appearance & structure of smashed avo and you’re toast.

              First up, the David Lord Section. Please name the two Aust spin bowlers who averaged “under 25 for the series”?

              Still on averages; If you’re pointing out the Oz spinners averages, and Eff knows why when they were both comfortably out-averaged by Jadega, why then didn’t you also state the averages for Starc, Hazlewood & Cummins? It wouldn’t be because they were all comprehensively out bowled by Umesh NoName perchance?

              And why on earth would anyone in their right mind pick Bird as an alternative? He shouldn’t even be in the squad. His resurrection selection ahead of Sayers for the last Adelaide Test was inexplicable. Besides that, you miss the point. This being that *if* an Other or two had been bowling then Aust *might* have won the series. Jones’s boast about NSW bowlers ‘taking all the wickets’ is a stupid thing to say after a losing series. So I can see why you’d buy it.

              And you’ve not followed on about how Aust have lost three of their last four series despite having all these NSW superstars. So you admit that your attempted sledge about how “well” NSW are doing is lacklustre. Good.

              And “saving the best till last”: What exactly is wrong with switching sports to illustrate how Jones’s claim on Lyon is highly dubious? How does that make me “battling”? Using the RL SoO rules has shedloads more credibility than your wholly baseless; “certainly more NSW’s [sic] than Canberren. [sic]” claim. And despite hooting about changing sports, you then raised the Radradra case. Why? Radradra was eligible to play for Australia under the existing rules but was ruled ineligible for NSW because he hadn’t played any *junior* footy in NSW. So that’d be like Nathan Lyon playing U17 & U19 for the ACT then wouldn’t it?

              • April 21st 2017 @ 12:58am
                Nudge said | April 21st 2017 @ 12:58am | ! Report

                Classic, you make me laugh. ?. NSW’s have 7 of the best 11 cricketers in Australia. Jealous much champ? Haha not much

              • April 21st 2017 @ 1:46am
                Matt Jones said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:46am | ! Report

                the jealousy is strong in this one

      • Columnist

        April 25th 2017 @ 9:44am
        Andrew Jones said | April 25th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Nathan’s from Young and a proud Bluebagger. Note also that CACT is a member of CNSW: all our pathway squads up to Futures League are now split between NSW Metro and ACT/NSW Country instead of having a single NSW team.

        And we are very proud of our lads’ efforts in India.

    • April 18th 2017 @ 2:14pm
      Tom said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Pardon my scepticism but I get very nervous when I hear Administrators say they are revolutionizing under 10 to 13 by making it faster, shorter, more exciting and more engaging. It was a Long time ago but I loved this Cricket age and can’t understand why you would want to change it. Can you share the research that is making the case for these changes?

      • April 18th 2017 @ 10:10pm
        Ed said | April 18th 2017 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

        CA did an extensive research piece on this which has been published – look it up. It will have additional benefits – like promoting straight cricket shots at age group level as the bowlers will have the strength to pitch it up over the shorter distance (and less cross bat shots to loopy half trackers as a result)

        • Columnist

          April 25th 2017 @ 9:52am
          Andrew Jones said | April 25th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          Quite right Ed. Very significant increase in number of balls in play (fewer wides and no balls) and hence runs and wickets. Also increase in scoring areas. Kids don’t generally set up 20m pitches in the backyard or schoolyard and there is a reason for that – 20m is too long for that age.

    • April 18th 2017 @ 10:45pm
      Ken Spacey said | April 18th 2017 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

      Hi Andrew, is Malcolm Conn turning into an actual member of the human race? He seems to have eased back on his bizarre online attack on football.of recent times.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 3:37am
        jarijari said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:37am | ! Report

        Malcolm’s a fierce attack dog I’ve known for decades and an old Richmond fan. Haven’t seen him for a while but I reckon he’s mellowed a fair bit since jumping the fence and joining the regime at CA.

        • April 19th 2017 @ 1:37pm
          Sydneysider said | April 19th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

          “Malcolm’s a fierce attack dog I’ve known for decades and an old Richmond fan”

          That explains his hatred of the world game.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 3:37pm
        qwetzen said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

        I’m a huge non-fan of The Conn, some of his pieces during his Brett Lee era were just embarrassing, but why is attacking soccer “bizarre”?

        And why are you posting this in the cricket tab?

    • April 19th 2017 @ 3:18am
      jarijari said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:18am | ! Report

      Thanks Andrew. An incredible $99 million surplus for 2015, hosting the World Cup, down to $9 million for 2016, but the projection for this financial year plunged to an unbelievable $68 million loss through the visits of South Africa and Pakistan last season. How is that possible? Of course 2017-18 should generate a massive profit because of the Ashes. There’s certainly no drama for the Sheffield Shield, as Cricket Australia is reported to have cash reserves of nearly $150 million.

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