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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

ICC want to achieve a '50-50 split' of new male and female participants in cricket by 2023

Currently, women and girls only account for about 10 per cent of people who are actively involved in the game globally.

The 2017 women's cricket World Cup final at Lord's between India and England has generated lots of interest in women's cricket. John Sibley / Reuters
The 2017 women's cricket World Cup final at Lord's between India and England has generated lots of interest in women's cricket. John Sibley / Reuters

The International Cricket Council (ICC) wants half of all new participants in cricket to be female by 2023.

Currently, women and girls only account for about 10 per cent of people who are actively involved in the game globally.

Will Glenwright, the ICC’s head of global development, believes all sports should aspire to have equal participation between males and females.

He says cricket’s Dubai-based governing body regard the women’s game as being the sport’s “low hanging fruit”.

“For all new participants that we attract to the game, we want to achieve a 50-50 split,” Glenwright said.

“That is something we want to aspire to. By 2023, the end of the current cycle, we would like to be in a position where 50 per cent of all new participants in cricket are women and girls.

“That won’t equate to a 50-50 split in the short term. But it has to be the long-term aspiration for all sports, especially ours, that we have to have a 50 per cent participation rate.”

Glenwright hopes the governing body can convert the viewership successes of the women’s World Cup in England earlier this summer into greater numbers of participants.

According to ICC statistics, 156 million people watched the women’s World Cup in India. That included 126 million for the final alone, in which India lost to England at Lord’s.

The performances of Mithali Raj’s side in finishing runners-up contributed to a 500 per cent increase in viewing hours in their homeland.

That was typical of the general trend in cricket’s leading TV markets. In the UK, the World Cup had a 300 per cent increase in terms of viewing hours compared to its previous edition. There was a 131 per cent increase in Australia, while in South Africa it was a massive 861 per cent.

Glenwright says countries far beyond cricket’s mainstream also provide reasons to be optimistic about the game’s growth among females.

He says the overall development project could learn from Vanuatu, the small island nation in the South Pacific where 40 per cent of an overall number of nearly 20,000 people involved in cricket are women and girls.

“The exciting aspect is, in my view, we can achieve major growth in overall participation rates by focusing on women’s cricket,” Glenwright said.

“Globally, among our 92 Associate Members, participation among women is about 10 per cent. That is too low.

“In Vanuatu, women’s participation is around 40 per cent. They are doing something right that we need to learn from.

“There are similar stories around the world. A number of countries are focusing on women’s cricket specifically.

“Whilst we can lament the participation rate, and it is too low, it is the low-hanging fruit, where the growth potential is.

“Cricket is very accessible. It is just as easily played by women and girls as boys and men. Mixed cricket is easier than other sports. Boys and girls can play together because there isn’t that physicality that is needed.”

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