Sydney, Dec 22 (UNI)- The governing body of cricket in Australia announced on Friday a new plan to increase the representation of South Asians at the top level of the sport. Cricket Australia (CA) handed down its new multicultural action plan, identifying Australia’s large South Asian communities as key to the sport’s ongoing growth.

The plan sets out 10 key actions to increase the representation of fans from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh in playing, volunteering, coaching, umpiring and administration roles in elite Australian cricket.

“We couldn’t be stronger that we want to make every single cricket environment, whether that’s clubs, playing, coaching, administering, just the most inclusive places we possibly can,” Nick Hockley, chief executive of CA, told reporters in Melbourne.

Under the plan, funding will be made available to all multicultural groups to boost participation in, attendance of, and engagement with, cricket.

The plan was formulated with input from three prominent cricketers from South Asian backgrounds – current Australian international players Usman Khawaja and Alana King and former women’s team captain Lisa Sthalekar – as well as consultation with members of local communities.

“Hopefully this will be a legacy that lasts long into the future where we can see greater representation, both male and female, in Australian cricket,” Khawaja said. A CA survey found that 67 percent of players from South Asian backgrounds said it was challenging to find a cricket club in Australia – double the rate among other respondents.

18 percent of cricketers in the elite pathway system have South Asian backgrounds, the plan said, but in first class cricket – the level below international games – the proportion is just four percent.

Almost one in five CA staff are from South Asian backgrounds but among executives and board members the proportion is two percent. In response, CA committed to running a pilot South Asian player talent camp in 2024 as well as cultural awareness and unconscious bias training for its staff.

According to data published by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in October, more than 700,000 Australian males play cricket. Australia have won the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s and Women’s Cricket World Cup a combined 13 times, including the most recent edition of both in 2023 and 2022, respectively.

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