Cricket Australia sends technology in to bat

How Australia's national cricketing body uses IT to help its players and attract fans

Social networking

Hand in hand with the apps and website come social networking sites. On Facebook, Cricket Australia has 1.5 million fans while on Twitter it has 88,665 followers.

Cricket Australia is also in 22,500 circles on Google Plus.

“When cricket matches are taking place, whether they are interstate or international matches, we find that there is definitely more content and engagement on those platforms around those matches,” Washington says.

Cricket Australia also ramps up activity on social media sites when specific events happen such as Adam Gilchrist’s recent induction into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame.

“We try to make sure the fans are engaged and we have a set of hash tags on Twitter that we use to try and aggregate the conversation between all the fans,” he said.

“We’re not only posting content but we’re deliberately trying to engage and respond to fan queries and comments.”

For example, these comments can vary from fans asking when matches are taking place to app updates.

Another area of fan interaction that the organisation is looking to use this summer is video chats with some of the national men’s or women’s members.

It is also investigating the use of Google Hangout for player chats this summer.

“We have been very strong advocates of our players using Twitter,” Washington says.

“To help with that we maintain a list of players and officials that we verify that should fans want to follow, they can check out that list.”

However, if people get nasty and start abusing or ‘trolling’ players, Cricket Australia has procedures in place to ensure its athletes aren’t subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets such as that experienced by Australian-based TV presenter Charlotte Dawson recently.

“The thing about Twitter is that you can either respond [to the trolls] or ignore them. We take either of those approaches at the appropriate time,” he says.

“With Facebook we have a set of community rules that we have on our Facebook fan page. If you don’t abide by those rules, we use the administrator functionality to block or report people.”

Grassroots cricket

However, social networking does not end with urban communities as the organisation is keen to keep cricket top of mind in the rural and remote parts of Australia.

In 2008, Cricket Australia established a digital platform for grassroots communities called MyCricket. This is a free Web platform for its associations and clubs to manage respective cricket seasons and share information.

“In terms of grassroots, we have uptake all around Australia,” he says. “About 85 per cent of [cricket] clubs and associations use the platform.”

“On the admin side of things we’re providing the tools that allow club cricket to communicate with all of their players via their own website or MyCricket. They can send emails or SMS messages out via the admin capabilities out to their group.”

Looking to the future of the game, Washington says that shorter match types such as T20 will be an integral part of the organisation.

According to Washington, usage of the T20 Big Bash platforms and attendance at matches last season indicated that it has been successful in trying to attract teenagers back to cricket.

“People are increasingly time poor as well and some adults don’t have six or seven hours to spend playing cricket on Saturday.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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