Independent research has confirmed record-breaking interest in the 2008-09 New Zealand summer of cricket.
The highest number of players ever registered to play cricket in a single season was recorded during the summer and a record number of New Zealanders watched international cricket – with both ground attendances and television viewer hours well in excess of targets.
Leading New Zealand research company, UMR Research has rated public interest in cricket at its highest level in the six years that the Interest in Cricket Index has been calculated.
“We measure key indicators of support for cricket and generate an overall rating of public interest,” said UMR Director, Tim Grafton.
“While there are always factors that can influence any one figure – such as weather or the schedule itself – the combined measure of participants, attendances, SKY viewership and independent market research provides a very accurate indication of public interest in cricket.”
“The 2008-09 season was huge for cricket and this is reflected in this year’s level of interest being the highest since records began,” he said.
The number of people registered to play cricket in New Zealand exceeded 104,000 during the summer, only the second time in the sport’s recorded history that the 100,000 participation mark has been achieved.
End of season figures released by New Zealand Cricket today show attendances at international matches during the 2008-09 season reached 209,228 – 16 percent ahead of the season target of 180,000.
In addition, cricket received more than 25.2 million viewer hours on SKY - 26 percent ahead of the NZC season target of 20 million.
NZC Commercial Manager Peter Dwan said the results were a reflection of both an effective grassroots development programme and an exciting summer of cricket.
“The national development programme has driven a growth in participation from 91,000 in 2003/04 to this year’s high of more than 104,000,” said Dwan.
“We also had two of the most colourful international cricket teams in New Zealand over the summer and many fans took the opportunity to see stars like Chris Gayle, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid in person.
“The extended India tour was a huge drawcard, with the ‘Rockstars of Cricket’ in action against our BLACKCAPS. The crowds were great and atmosphere at the grounds was electric.”
Attendances included four sold-out games – two each at Eden Park, Auckland and Seddon Park in Hamilton.
Dwan said NZC’s partnership with Sky TV had been successful in bringing cricket to a wide audience this summer.
“The West Indies and India tours gave viewers a feast of great cricket,” he said. “But we also had a record number of domestic games on air – including extensive coverage the State Twenty20 competition.
“Women’s cricket also had a high level of coverage this season with broadcasts of the White Ferns at the World Cup, as well as the Rose Bowl series against Australia.”
He anticipates continued growth in the nation’s interest in cricket with two ICC Twenty20 world cups (for both BLACKCAPS and White Ferns), an ICC Champions Trophy and a full summer of home international and domestic cricket in the next ten months.
“We will be hosting the world champion Australians for a full tour against the BLACKCAPS next summer and there is nothing like that trans-Tasman rivalry to fan the flames of public interest in cricket,” said Dwan.