‘The investment we have made is working’ – ECB report a record number of people participating in cricket
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The news represents a much improved picture from the corresponding accounts for 2020/21, when the impact of the pandemic affected attendance, hurt the recreational game and contributed to losses of £16m.
Overall turnover at the ECB was up £96m to a total of £303m and, although the return of full crowds in the county and international arena brought increased costs, there was enough surplus to replenish the governing body’s dwindling cash reserves.
From a high point of £70million in 2016, they had thinned to just £2.2m 12 months ago but now stand a healthier mark of £22.9m.
Funding to the tune of £25m over the next five years has also been committed to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion following the all-game action plan agreed last November at the height of cricket’s racism crisis.
Just as importantly by the organisation’s own metrics was the wider community involvement in cricket.
The headline figure of 14m people accounts for those who played, attended or followed cricket over the year and represents an increase of three million compared to 2019, when England’s men won the World Cup at Lord’s and created a new wave of interest in the sport.
The annual report states that 1.4m children played cricket during the period, including the highest ever proportion of girls (34 per cent) and 105,000 in the club-affiliated All Stars and Dynamos programs.
Outgoing chief executive Tom Harrison, who announced his imminent departure on Tuesday and leaves behind a polarised legacy, claimed the new figures as definitive evidence of progress.
‘When we launched ‘Inspiring Generations’ two and a half years ago, our ambition was to make cricket a game for everyone. It is an ambitious plan to make our game mean more to more people, and the whole game is working in partnership to deliver it,’ he said.
‘With a record 14m playing, attending or following our game, it shows the investment we have been able to make in cricket is working.
‘It is also testament to the hard work of so many people in getting through the pandemic that we have been able to bounce back so strongly as a sport.
‘The last 12 months have underlined the importance of what we are trying to achieve, and also demonstrated how much further we need to go to deliver change more quickly.
‘Meaningful and systemic change takes time, but we are already making progress on that difficult journey. This report shines a light on some of the work that is already making a difference.’