The independent voice of cricket


Cricket’s competition in Australia

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Can cricket retain its status down under?

Sport has always been an important part of Australian culture and that remains true to this day. Organised sport in Australia began in 1810 with the first athletics tournament, soon fllowed by the introduction of others such as cricket, horse racing and sailing clubs. Many sporting events that gain worldwide attention take place in Australia: the Australian Open (tennis), Melbourne Cup (horse racing) and the Australian F1 Grand Prix.

Cricket has for a long time been the sport the world associates with Australia, and the focus of the country is often on cricket throughout the summer months. The fact they’ve had such a spectacularly successful team must help a bit…

Crowds for the Big Bash League topped one million in both 2016 and 2017, with an average crowd per match of 30,000. The Ashes remains arguably the biggest sporting event in Australia and, with a match played in each major city, creates major excitement country-wide.

But all that said, right now it’s Aussie Rules Football that leads the way as Australia’s most popular spectator sport, even though higher participation levels are seen in other sports such as golf, cricket and tennis. 2017 saw a massive 400,401 spectators attend the nine games of Round 1 in the AFL – a record. TV viewing of the sport also continues to increase, with metro viewership up 14 per cent in 2017. Throughout a whole season the AFL can expect attendances of more than six million people.

Rugby League has been dominant in the country since the early 1900s and continues to be one of the most popular sports. In 2009 in was actually the most watched sport on TV with more viewers than the AFL, with a total audience of 128.9 million viewers. Rugby is in fact more popular than Aussie Rules in some areas now, such as New South Wales and Queensland.

Horse racing is seen as a very important spectator sport within Australia; the country has more racecourses than any other nation and the second highest number of horses starting races each year, behind the USA. As well as being an important sport for fans, it also provides employment for close to 250,000 people, therefore it is an industry as well as a sport, making it vital to the nation. This has been underlined by horse racing betting sites such as Unibet, covering all major meetings and races in the country; with betting on these events being some of the most popular with all punters.

There are many other sports that are enjoyed both from a participation and spectator view point within Australia such as soccer, tennis, netball and golf. For example, soccer is actually the sport that now has the highest participation levels: in 2017 the figure was around 1.1 million, but it is clear that cricket will always be the sport that the world associates with Australia.

In association with Unibet

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