Cricket Australia is a step closer to developing a comprehensive five-year strategy for the game following the Australian Cricket Conference in Melbourne.
The three-day event involved more than 200 representatives from the game's community at all levels throughout Australia and was the first such gathering since 2010.
Key points include a greater emphasis on providing a clearer structure and greater context for international cricket, particularly to make Test Cricket more relevant.
There will also be a greater emphasis on the Big Bash League for male and female players, particularly in the context of complementing international cricket.
Other areas of focus included:
A true sport for women and girls
Australian Cricket acknowledged that there has been great progress in ensuring cricket is a true sport for women and girls. This being said, it was recognised there was a lot more to be done.
Cricket Australia and State and Territory Associations have agreed to amplify the focus on the role of elite female cricketers and their importance in ensuring cricket is a sport for all. This approach will be driven from the grass roots up, ensuring that every cricket club around Australia is a welcoming and supportive environment for women and girls.
There was consensus in Australian Cricket to review investment in grass roots, especially for boys and girls (schools and clubs) and the delivery model for the sport at this level. Furthermore, there was a commitment to roll-out modified formats nationally in the 2017-18 season, following pilots in the coming 2016-17 season, and to pursue the development of social cricket formats that align with the growing casual participation trends across the sporting sector in Australia.
On elite cricket, the sport will focus on exploring ways to increase fan engagement with International cricket. Cricket Australia has readily endorsed the progress being made by international cricket to pursue changes to the structure and context that underpins international competition between countries. This includes a clearer structure and greater context for international cricket to give fans more of what they want and make Test Cricket, more relevant.
In addition to the international stage, Australian Cricket will develop and refine a more robust growth strategy for the men's and women's Big Bash League, in the context of complementing international cricket
The 2020 ICC World T20
Australian Cricket agreed to work together to build on the success of the ICC Cricket World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand last year. Australian Cricket aspires for the next event, the ICC World Twenty20 in 2020, to surpass the 2015 event in terms of attendees, viewership and influence on the growth of the game.
Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever said he was excited by the constructive discussions and significant progress for the future of cricket in Australia, and hoped this would have a positive impact on the global game.
"This was an unprecedented opportunity for our sport to review itself and look at how we can shape the game for future generations. During the last conference in 2010, the delegates were urged to 'think big' as cricket reached out to better engage its community, with a desire to be more agile and efficient than it had in the past. Out of that five-day conference, there were three areas that were prioritized," Peever said.
"A review of Cricket Governance, a re-launch of T20 cricket and the national approach for the first touch point for many boys and girls – our entry level format In2CRICKET – as part of a wider examination of how cricket could use the resources it had in the most efficient way possible.
"Our challenge over this conference was how do we make cricket even better? How can cricket be the leading sport for participants and fans? What is the place that we want cricket to occupy in Australia today and tomorrow?
"Being a true sport for all, means we need to thoroughly review how we make cricket more enticing and welcoming for women and girls from the grass roots, right through to elite level. As a sport we need to make a huge cultural shift to be more inclusive and this will form a large focus in our upcoming strategy."
"Grass roots cricket will also form a bigger focus in the development of the Australian Cricket strategy. We want to better support grass roots, as they are critical to our growth as a sport, and also play a crucial part in their own community.
"We will continue to work with the ICC and other member countries on the review into the structure of bilateral cricket to ensure that each of the three international formats continues to be strongly supported by fans.
"Australian Cricket is keen to see that cricket enjoys growth in both interest and popularity, not just in traditional markets, but also in developing cricket nations.
"We believe that as full member of the ICC, we have a leadership role to play in supporting changes that will enable a bigger and better global game through enhanced relevance and earnt opportunity within bilateral cricket structures.
"Test Cricket is the oldest most traditional form of international cricket. It is highly valued and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. But we cannot hide from the realities of modern day cricket, which sees three formats of international cricket and thriving domestic T20 leagues.
"The Test format is highly valued by millions of Australian cricket fans – and we support any initiative that enhances its popularity and relevance in the modern age.
"We firmly believe that improved structure and context for international cricket (Tests and limited overs formats) will have a positive impact on the game and drive stronger appeal for fans.
"It's all about everyone helping each other to get a better outcome, that's our foremost position, and strengthening the game will hopefully down the track be good for cricket in Australia.
"Now is the time for cricket to work collectively on a detailed plan to ensure the sport retains popularity with future generations in a rapidly changing and competitive world. We need to continue to be a sport of choice for all men and women, boys and girls of all backgrounds."