England cricket chiefs must build on the foundations laid by remarkable World Cup win

In January the England and Wales Cricket Board released a 35-page document entitled Inspiring Generations, which set out the governing bodys five-year plan to drive youth participation and diversify crickets fan base.

One of the six priorities outlined was to “inspire through elite teams”. Sundays remarkable events at Lords have handed the ECB an opportunity to put their plan into action. It is an open goal which simply cannot be passed up.

The scarcely believable nature of Englands first World Cup win in their first final for 27 years, on home soil and free-to-air television, should be the occasion which sparks a surge in interest for the sport.

Read more: England beat New Zealand by the skin of their teeth to win the World Cup

The initial signs are promising. Skys decision to share their coverage on Channel 4 and More4 was vindicated by a peak audience of 8.29m people across both broadcasters, with 4.47m of those watching on free-to-air TV.

Ben Stokes has emerged out of the World Cup as an obvious star (Getty Images)

To put those numbers into context, the nation-stirring 2005 Ashes series had a peak of 8.9m viewers on the fourth day of the fourth Test on Channel 4, back in an era when terrestrial television was unchallenged by modern multi-platform viewing habits.

These numbers are still significantly below those for this summers Womens World Cup and Wimbledon on the BBC, with Novak Djokovics epic win over Roger Federer on Sunday garnering a peak audience of 9.6m, but are nevertheless encouraging for cricket, which has been hidden behind Skys paywall for 14 years.

Branching out

Away from television screens, there were 30,000 fans inside Lords and an unquantifiable number watching the nail-biting win over New Zealand in pubs or at public screenings, like at Trafalgar Square.

In the online sphere BBC Sport reported a record 39.7m page views, with 3.9m unique browsers, over the day on their live blog, while Google searches for “The Ashes” had a 559 per cent increase on Sunday, compared to the previous day, and the phrase “cricket clubs near me” was up 50 per cent over the entire World Cup.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Eoin Morgan, Captain, during the England ICC World Cup Victory Celebration at The Kia Oval on July 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
England captain Eoin Morgan presented the World Cup trophy at The Oval today (Getty Images)

Taking into account the array of newspaper front pages displaying England celebration pictures, radio bulletins opening with reaction to the win and countless water cooler conversations discussing Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and super overs, its clear the World Cup has succeeded in reaching out far beyond crickets usual audience.

The seed has been planted, now the ECB must nurture it. ThousandRead More – Source

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