An Economic Analysis of Cricket and Cricket Australia

August 13, 2023
Writer(s): Prem Titus Arockia Rajan, Oliver Chen

The reverberating echo of leather striking willow is a familiar sound to many Australians, a testament to the pervasive and beloved nature of cricket in the country. First played in Australia 2 centuries ago, cricket has gradually entrenched itself into Australia’s cultural narrative. As cricket evolved from an iconic Australian pastime into one of Australia’s premier sports, it has become a major economic driver for the nation. This article will explore the profound and often under-appreciated economic influence of cricket in Australia.

In the 2022-2023 financial year, Cricket Australia, the organisation in charge of promoting and representing cricket in Australia, reported encouraging figures that underline cricket’s deep-rooted popularity across the nation. Junior cricket saw a robust 4.4% growth, while senior participation climbed by 2% (Cricket Australia, 2022). Echoing this sentiment of the popularity of cricket, data released from Sports Australia’s AusPlay survey in 2018 indicates that 3% of Australians play cricket, comparable to the 4% of Australians who participate in Australian Football (KPMG Sports Advisory, March 2020). In terms of game spectatorship, cricket once again boasts strong figures with the average crowd of BBL matches and international cricket matches hosted in Australia being 21,263, ranking second only to AFL (KPMG Sports Advisory, March 2020). Grassroots participation in cricket also rose last year by 11% to 598,931 (Cricket Australia, 2022). These figures clearly indicate the popularity of cricket in Australia. 

Overall Financial Performance of Cricket Australia

Cricket Australia has a diverse revenue stream, accumulated to $391,004,000 in the 2021-2022 financial year. A substantial 62% of Cricket Australia’s revenue is generated from the sale of media rights for cricket events and marketing companies (Cricket Australia, 2022). The sale of media rights not only involves television broadcasting, which beams matches into households across the country and globally but also includes radio broadcasting, ensuring fans can keep up with the game even on the move. As an example of the global demand to broadcast Australian matches, just this year, Cricket Australia signed a $361 million contract with Disney Star for broadcasting rights to beam men’s and women’s matches in India and elsewhere in Asia for the next 7 years (Marshallsea, 2022 July 24).

In addition to these earnings from media rights and marketing are several other pivotal revenue drivers. Commercial sponsorships, for instance, make up 18% of the revenue (Cricket Australia, 2022). These sponsorships can range from kit sponsors to stadium naming rights and partnerships with various brands looking to leverage the sport’s popularity. Furthermore, 11% of Cricket Australia’s revenue is sourced from fees paid by ICC, the International Cricket Council, to Cricket Australia whenever the national cricket team of Australia plays a match (Cricket Australia, 2022).

In the financial year 2021-2022, Cricket Australia generated significant revenue but still ended the term in a deficit. The most considerable expense for Cricket Australia was player salaries, which amounted to $90,874,000, representing 32% of the total expenses (Cricket Australia, 2022). Notably, this was over double the cost of the next highest expense, underscoring the significance of player wage costs. Other expenditures for Cricket Australia include administrative costs (15%) and expenses related to hosting cricket matches (13%) (Cricket Australia, 2022).

Elite Players’ Compensation

On April 4th, 2023, Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), a union representing elite players, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning salary increases for the following year (Australian Cricketers’ Association, 2023 April 4). As part of this agreement, the average salary for women representing Australia will surge by 25% to $139,719 (Australian Cricketers’ Association, 2023), elevating them to the status of the highest-paid female athletes in the nation. In parallel, their male counterparts will see an average pay increase of 7.5%, reaching a new figure of $951,046 (Australian Cricketers’ Association, 2023). The highest paid cricketer by Cricket Australia is the Australian team captain, Patrick Cummins, who was paid an impressive $2 million last year (Brettig & Conn, 2022 May 24). These figures of player wages can be seen in more detail in the diagram below:

Other than just the salary figures paid by Cricket Australia, cricket players can earn a substantial amount of money through endorsement deals with companies. For example, Patrick Cummins, Australian Cricket Team captain, has inked deals with Domain and Gillette (Bailey, 2019 December 20). According to the Australian Financial Review, Patrick Cummins earned about $200,000 from endorsements in 2018-2019 (Bailey, 2019 December 20), which has likely increased since his promotion to being the captain of the Australian cricket team.

Cricket Australia’s Broadcasting Contracts

With a cumulative audience of 44.45 million (31% increase in audience year-on-year) consuming 238.72 million viewer hours of coverage of cricket last summer, it is apparent that broadcasting rights are a major source of revenue for Cricket Australia (The National Tribune, 2023 February 28). These broadcasting rights are often hotly contested, with major TV networks such as Paramount (owner of channel 10), News Corp-controlled Foxtel, Seven West Media and Nine contesting (Samios, Zoe, 2022 December 1). Recently, News Corp-controlled Foxtel and Seven West Media extended their deal of broadcasting cricket for the next 5 years in Australia, paying $1.5 billion (Lavalette, 2023 January 3). In this deal, Seven West Media will broadcast only select matches for free, while Foxtel will broadcast most matches for a paid subscription. Reportedly, Paramount approached Cricket Australia with a bigger offer (Samios, Brettig, 2022) but was rejected due to the comparatively smaller size of its viewer base (Lavalette, 2023 January 3). 

Outside TV networks, Australians can also enjoy listening to cricket through their radio, with non-exclusive radio coverage deals signed with ABC, Macquarie Media, and Sports Entertainment Network (Cricket Australia, 2023). Listening to cricket on ABC Grandstand Radio is generally considered to be a staple of the Australian summer, a tradition started in 1930 (ABC continues 84-year partnership with Cricket Australia, 2018 June 18). 

Other than broadcasted matches, cricketers are also increasingly appearing in streaming networks. For example, in 2020, in the aftermath of a scandal known as the “Ball Tampering Scandal”, the ACA signed a deal with Amazon Prime where cricket players were paid $81,000 to appear in a documentary named, “The Test”, to recount their first-hand experiences as part of the scandal (Webster, 2021 August 20). Interestingly enough, the Australian coach only received around $40,000 in payment for his performance, most likely due to the fact that ACA did not negotiate for him (Webster, 2021 August 20). This documentary received a 4.1 star rating in Amazon Prime (Amazon, 2023), and was successful enough for Amazon to launch a new season on 13th January 2023. It remains to be seen if this trend of premiering fresh documentaries to cater to the insatiable hunger of cricket enthusiasts will continue.

Looming Franchise Model of Cricket

Since the first international cricket matches between England and Australia in 1861-1862, representing the country was seen as the pinnacle of the sport (Wynne-Thomas, 1989). Australians who had the ability to play and represent their country were often rewarded with great fame. Legends such as Don Bradman and Shane Warne were etched into the books of history, never to be forgotten. However, with the rise of the franchise model of cricket around the world, such as the IPL in India, players are increasingly choosing to prioritise and play for cricket franchises over their national teams. Indeed, Trent Boult, who ranks as the fourth highest wicket-taker in New Zealand’s history and stands out as one of its most accomplished bowlers (Trent boult profile—Cricket player new zealand | stats, records, video, n.d.), opted for an early retirement to participate in franchise cricket. Many fear that such a trend could permeate Australian cricket, potentially weakening Cricket Australia’s influence in favour of international cricket leagues.

A primary reason players are choosing not to represent their country and instead prioritise foreign leagues is the significant disparity in salaries offered. Highlighting this difference in pay, rising Australian sensation Cameron Green made $3.15 million for playing in an IPL season lasting only 52 days (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2022 December 24). This amount surpasses the most generous yearly offer from Cricket Australia. With some Indian franchise owners willing to pay players upwards of $7 million for a year’s commitment, Cricket Australia could find it challenging to keep its players away from franchise leagues to represent their country due to the difference in salaries paid in the future. India is estimated to contribute 70%-80% of the sport’s total revenue, a figure that has been rising and is expected to increase further with India’s economic growth (Gollapudi, Samiuddin, 2023 May 10). Consequently, the revenues of Indian cricket franchises are likely to expand. This could make it challenging for other cricket boards to financially compete in retaining players. However, the significance of representing one’s country is one that holds historical prestige, and it is unlikely that this will disappear anytime soon.

Varying States of International Cricket Boards

Despite this imminent threat arising from foreign franchise leagues such as the IPL, Cricket Australia is still one of the 3 richest cricket boards in the world. Namely, these 3 cricket boards are India, England, and Australia, which have over the years earned themselves the name of the “Big 3”. All three of these countries have a strong cricket viewing audience and strong financials to follow. However, there are other places where cricket is struggling both financially and in terms of popularity. West Indies, representing a collection of countries having a rich cricketing history and having won 2 consecutive World Cups in 1975 and 1979, was eliminated from competing for the first time in 2023, showing its decline both in terms of the financial ability of the West Indies cricket board and cricket popularity. In fact, for a few months in 2020, the West Indies cricket board was forced to reduce the match fees for its cricket players resulting in player strikes, highlighting the dire state of their finances (Times of India, 2020 April 23). Wages for West Indies players also remain to be quite low, often meaning that some high quality West Indies players have refused to represent their nations and play for foreign leagues in the past. As an example of this stark disparity in pay, West Indian cricket star Nicholas Pooran made eight times his annual salary from the West Indies cricket board in a mere two months by playing in the IPL (The Hindu, 2023 July 2). 


Growing Future of Women’s Cricket

While Men’s cricket has been played for many years and is quite mature, Women’s cricket is currently undergoing an exciting phase of growth. With the latest rises in pay negotiated between Cricket Australia and ACA, cricket now clearly offers the best earning opportunities of any team sport for elite female athletes in Australia (Australian Cricketers’ Association, 2023 April 4). Cricket spectators also have found a strong interest in watching women’s cricket, with women’s cricket matches attracting more viewer hours than AFLW, NRLW and A-League Women combined (Cricket Australia, 2022). Registered female participation has also risen by more than 20% year-on-year to 71,300 participants (Cricket Australia, 2022). From these figures, it is clear that investing in women’s cricket is a strong growth opportunity for Cricket Australia to increase both its revenue over the long run and have increased participation in the sport, all whilst promoting gender equality.


Cricket, beyond its status as an iconic Australian pastime, has woven itself deeply into the country’s economic fabric. Its profound impact on Australia’s economy spans from the generation of significant revenues via media rights and sponsorships, elite player compensation, and the commercial weight of broadcasting contracts. At the same time, the looming ascendancy of the franchise model in cricket poses new challenges and dynamics, possibly reshaping the future of the sport in Australia. Yet, despite these shifting landscapes, one truth remains – cricket holds a cherished place in Australia’s heart and economy. The sport’s historical prestige ensures that cricket will continue to play a defining role in Australia’s cultural and economic narrative for years to come.



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The CAINZ Digest is published by CAINZ, a student society affiliated with the Faculty of Business at the University of Melbourne. Opinions published are not necessarily those of the publishers, printers or editors. CAINZ and the University of Melbourne do not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in the publication.

Meet our authors:

Prem Titus Arockia Rajan

I'm currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Actuarial Studies. Beyond my academic interests in Economics and Actuarial topics, I'm also an avid Cricket fan, and am always eager to play Table Tennis.

Oliver Chen

I am a first year Bachelor of Commerce student pursuing a major in actuarial studies. When I'm not writing articles or helping out with IT at CAINZ, I'm probably reading something interesting on the deck chair in my back yard.