Australia news June 7, 2014

Queensland granted $4 million to aid game

Queensland is the first major financial beneficiary of Cricket Australia's new governance structure and financial distribution model, granted $4.05 million over three years to strengthen the game in the northern state, particularly its growth in country areas.

Having benefited from the greatest generation of talent ever to come through the state over more than a decade from 1994-95 and a first Sheffield Shield title, Queensland's production line for cricketers has shown signs of slowing. Their most recent Shield victory was more a result of ingenuity, determination and sporting wickets than the sort of command performances often produced in the years before.

To that end, the funding will be directed towards enhancing the talent-spotting and game development networks in Brisbane and around the state. It will provide for five new market development officer roles for southern Queensland and a new regional cricket manager role, based in Townsville, to oversee game and market development activities in central and northern Queensland.

A regional cricket officer will also be hired and based in Townsville, while one of three new talent officers will keep watch over the northern region. The use of targeted funding to address areas of concern in the game was one of the major outcomes of the 2011 Crawford/Carter governance review that brought independent directors to CA for the first time in its history.

CA's chief executive James Sutherland said the Queensland funding showed what was possible under the new system, allowing the board and management to take calls on where greater financial help was needed.

"Queensland has a proud tradition of producing top cricket talent and has an incredible record in state cricket over the past two to three decades," he said. "But in an era where kids are spoilt for choice with sporting options, we have to work harder than ever before to attract them to our game.

"That means arming Queensland Cricket with the right human and financial resources to really promote and enhance the game at grassroots level throughout that state. Our analysis found that despite Queensland's population, geographic size and strong growth forecasts, Queensland Cricket didn't have the people or funds at hand to make gains where it matters most.

"These funds will go a long way towards building a stronger and more sustainable participation base delivered by a stronger Queensland Cricket."

Before the review, revenue raised at CA was distributed more or less on the basis of an equal share for each state, despite their vast differences in size, population and demographics

While CA's strategic investment fund had earlier pledged around $4 million to Victoria for the redevelopment of the increasingly derelict Junction Oval, that money remains tied up until further funds can be found from the state government.

Geoff Cockerill, Queensland Cricket's chief executive, was hopeful of rallying greater interest in the game and creating enough resources to sustain that growth.

"This major level of investment is a great result for cricket, strengthening our position in South East Queensland and especially in the regional areas of the State which is where continued growth at the grassroots level is vital to the overall health of cricket," he said.

"The funding goes directly to getting staff working at the coalface and will make a significant difference in the short- to medium-term. It will help us with the physical and logistical challenges that Queensland, as a big State with a large proportion of its population residing outside the south-east corner, faces each day."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig