Brisbane Heat stars Beth Mooney, Jess Jonassen and Holly Ferling were on hand to launch the 2017-18 Women's Ashes that will kick off in Brisbane at Allan Border Field on October 22.
The announcement of the major series comes at the time when women's cricket is at its highest point off the back of the Rebel Women's Big Bash League's second season, which saw the Heat reach the semifinals for the first time.
This summer proved there is a strong demand for women’s sport in Australia, with more people than ever before attending and watching cricket on the Nine Network and Network Ten. More than 121,000 fans attended matches during the second edition of the WBBL, whilst Network Ten’s coverage of the tournament attracted a national average of 271,000 viewers per match.
The ongoing support of the Nine Network meant the Australia public could also follow their favourite Rebel WBBL stars on the international stage, with all three of the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ double-header matches against New Zealand broadcast live on Nine’s primary channel.
The growing popularity of women’s cricket at the highest level over the past 12 months has had a positive flow on effect at all levels of the game. Women and girls made up almost a quarter of the 1.3 million people registered as playing cricket in Australia during 2015-16, an X% increase on the previous year, and the continued growth of women’s cricket is likely to lead to similar participation results for 2016-17.
Announced in July last year, Cricket Australia’s Growing Cricket for Girls Fund has proven to be an instant hit in its first summer, with more than 500 girls’ teams joining more than 40 new girls’ competitions as a result of the funding boost.
A $4 million investment over four years (with $500,000 going directly to clubs, associations and secondary schools each year to grow female cricket), the Growing Cricket for Girls Fund received a further boost in August, when a huge response from the cricket community prompted CA to commit another $500,000 over the first 12 months.
With additional support from principal partner Commonwealth Bank, the total investment in Growing Cricket for Girls is now $6m over the four years, with the fund forming a part of the landmark agreement between Cricket Australia and the Commonwealth Bank centred on women and diversity initiatives in cricket.
Commenting on the successes for women’s cricket in the past year, Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said:
“It has been yet another wonderful year for women’s cricket in Australia and we are delighted to see the growth of the female game - particularly at community level. At the same time however, we understand that a lot more work needs to be done to grow cricket as the number one sport of choice for Australian women and girls.
“High profile initiatives such as the Women’s Big Bash League are helping to address perceptions and demonstrate the amazing career opportunities that that cricket now provides talented young female athletes.
“It was pleasing to be able to send our first female indigenous team away to India last year - and no doubt more indigenous girls and women will follow in the footsteps of recent Australian debutant Ashleigh Gardner. An England tour in 2018 now beckons for this indigenous team.
“With an ICC Women's World Cup in the UK in July, 2017 shapes as an important year for our national women's team. As always, they will represent Australia with pride and will show the immense talent that has seen them win multiple world events over the last decade. We look forward to supporting them as they continue to set the performance bar high and provide inspiration to young cricketers across our country. ”