CRICKET REMAINS ON THE FRONT FOOT IN THE UK

Posted on December 5, 2014

Following a comprehensive international sport participation investigation by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. (SMS INC.), it is calculated that 4% of the UK population play cricket. This figure makes cricket the eleventh most played sport on the British Isles, and the second most-prevalent team sport behind football. As the umpires, and the receding light, call time on the cricket season, many of these British cricketers will wave goodbye to maidens, slip cordons and wickets, and start turning their attention to a different sport.

SMS INC. estimates that two-fifths of UK cricketers will replace their bat with boots in the autumn, and focus on football. One quarter will abandon the cut shot and take to the court to play badminton, whilst the same proportion will turn to table tennis and over one-fifth of cricketers will play squash.

The research also points strongly to the fact that cricketers diverge from wider UK trends in being more likely than participants of other sports to adopt other ‘ball’ sports outside of the cricket season to keep their hand-eye coordination and dexterity sharp. This pattern is mirrored abroad. In Australia, cricketers (who make up 11% of the population) are also more likely to be active players of badminton and table tennis, compared to the non-cricket playing population.
The England and Wales Cricket Board can draw great confidence from this and other resemblance between British cricketers and their Australian counterparts. An active cricketer in Australia plays on average 15.4 times per year, whereas UK participants play marginally less, averaging 14.3 outings each year; a negligible difference, especially given the inclement meteorological conditions that so often bedevil the English cricket season.

SMS INC. can also affirm that those playing in the UK are comparable in age to the Australian participant, with around three-fifths falling into the 25 to 45 year old age range.

With so many UK cricket participants falling into this age bracket, the cricket industry should be buoyed as this group represents the key demographic for equipment spend.

The participation research also reinforces cricket’s standing as a game for all ages. Whereas participation in sports such as rugby and football declines substantially among those aged over 55, cricket is played by as many 55-64 year olds as young adults aged 18-24. This could explain why bricks and mortar retailers remain a key point of purchase of cricket kit, appealing as they do to the more traditional, less tech-savvy older cricketer.

According to SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.’s Sports iQ research, 78% of players purchased at least one item of cricket kit in the last six months. The same study confirmed that cricket equipment isn’t exclusively purchased from one avenue, but instead that individual equipment categories tend, overwhelming, to be acquired from different channels. Indeed more than a quarter of cricketers buy their gloves at a multi-sport store, whilst over 33% purchase their helmet online.

Given the higher rate of cricket participation in Australia, confirming it as the number one team sport down under and fifth most popular sport overall, it is no surprise that the Australian national team, despite enduring a period of transition, remain highly prominent in the ICC’s World rankings for Twenty20, ODIs, and Tests, decisively regaining the Ashes last winter and currently outperforming the England team in all forms of the game.

Despite the England teams recent run of poor form, British bat manufacturer Gray-Nicolls has continued to perform. During England’s first test draw again India, the Kent-based brand led the SMS INC. Test Equipment Census providing 17% of bats in play, ahead of second-placed Indian bat manufacturer SS Ton (13%). Sachin Tendulkar’s long-time preferred maker MRF was the third most widespread brand in play. This is in stark contrast to the 2013 test series against Australia, where the prevailing brand was Kookaburra which had over one-third of the bats in play.

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