AUSTRALIAN cricket officials need to better fund the sport at grassroots level or risk the sustainability of clubs and associations.
That’s the verdict of Hamilton cricket official Lloyd Ilett, who has called for Cricket Australia (CA) to take a serious look at how it allocates its money.
Ilett, the Hamilton and District Cricket Association president, will attend a CA roadshow in Mount Gambier tonight, the last of 15 across the country since May.
It will allow regional associations to connect with CA officials to thrash out issues facing cricket in the region.
But Ilett went on the front foot yesterday, calling for sweeping changes to the distribution of funds to better encourage participation in “the only true national game”.
He said CA could prop up battling clubs by injecting cash into their coffers to go towards equipment or junior development.
“Honestly, the people in the bush firmly believe cricket is city-centric, to the capital cities,” he said. “The players in the bush and the grassroots are forgotten about.
“Our argument will be instead of spending millions that they do on the Big Bash League, which only caters to the elite players, why not channel some of that money back to the grassroots, the club players.
“Imagine what every club in Australia could do with $1000. It could get gear, it could provide junior development for the juniors just starting.”
Ilett said player payments in the BBL were excessive.
“Instead of paying one player $1 million a year to play the game, let’s pay him a realistic figure and channel some back to developing kids”.
He said multicultural, indigenous and women’s programs also needed more money to make a difference.
The Mount Gambier roadshow event was rescheduled from August.
But in the meantime, CA collated information from other events and spruiked its “three-month journey around the country” as “finished”.
Ilett even received the final report — which arrived in his inbox last week — before he had the chance to contribute.
On its website, CA said the roadshow identified five major challenges: accessibility, volunteer support, recruiting and retaining players, club development and increasing communication from the top down.
Matt Dwyer, CA’s interim executive general manager of game development, said he was looking forward to the Mount Gambier event.
“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our cricket family and we want to hear what they have to say,” he said. “We want to know what’s important to them, hear their concerns and work alongside them as we continue to grow Australian cricket.”