ECB Faces New Challenges Despite Positive Impact Report, says Richard Gould

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According to ECB CEO Richard Gould, the organization must work to redefine what constitutes a cricket club in order to fully leverage the sport’s potential. This comes after the release of a new report, The Impact of Cricket, which aims to showcase the positive influence of the game. The report, compiled with the assistance of The Sports Consultancy, used ECB data to evaluate the sport across all levels in the 2022 and 2023 seasons. It focused on how cricket enhances the lives of its participants and promotes community connections. The report revealed that 1.1 million children participated in cricket through ECB programs, partner initiatives, or organized play last year. Additionally, the women’s game experienced substantial growth, with 717 new women’s and girl’s teams formed in 2023, marking a 20% increase from the previous year.

Gould emphasized the power of cricket to positively impact players, fans, and volunteers, as well as the communities where the sport is played. He expressed a desire to make cricket the most inclusive sport in England and Wales and noted that while there is more work to be done, the report demonstrates the significant benefits cricket delivers today. The rising popularity of indoor cricket has also contributed to the sport’s growth, with over 30,000 players engaging in urban cricket centers, which have seen a 137% increase since 2022. The report also indicated that 28% of TV viewers in 2023 were female, a record percentage, and highlighted funding provided to 526 recreational clubs to improve their facilities and make them more accessible.

In response to the report, Azeem Rafiq, a former Yorkshire player, expressed skepticism, questioning the idea that cricket is uniting communities and accusing the impact report of making grand statements to manipulate perceptions.

These developments suggest a shift in how cricket is perceived and the efforts being made to redefine the traditional concept of a cricket club to foster greater inclusivity and growth in the sport.

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