The Rebel Women’s Big Bash League is making headlines for smashing last summer’s ratings, and bringing new fans to the sport. Two Saturdays ago, the prime-time match between the Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Stars attracted a national audience of 422,500 viewers, peaking at 629,000 and interest in girls playing cricket is surging as a result.
Jane Moffat, Cricket Australia’s National Female Participation Manager, attributed the growth to the appeal of the WBBL, the Australian team’s success in the recent Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series and the emergence of players including Ashleigh Gardner, Elyse Villani and Beth Mooney as strong role models.
“Another key factor has been the opportunity for young teenage girls to play in a local all-girls competition with their friends,” said Moffat.
“Research through Roy Morgan showed there is huge interest in cricket from girls, but they want to play in an environment that suits them – so that’s what we’ve helped clubs and associations provide and promote.”
And that’s exactly how fifteen-year-old Alicia Humphrey got into the game.
Alicia plays in the Sydney Sixers Girls Cricket League and is one of the 24,000 teenage girls playing organised cricket in either club or school competitions. And we asked her to explain why the sport is a genuine summer love.
"I’d be lying if I said I have always loved cricket; that just isn’t true because cricket was once something my brother played with his friends and Dad watched on television during the summer.
"It wasn’t until I turned 11 that I donned the cricket whites for the first time, and that was to play in a Friday night all-girls competition at my local oval. My Dad suggested for me to give cricket a go – and I’m glad I did!
LISTEN: Why Mia Freedman is obsessed with the WBBL. Post continues after audio.
"The competition was friendly, and I really liked that no one really seemed to care if you bowled a wide or were out first ball. I’ve played ever since.