ECB report World Cup bounce after free-to-air TV decision

Ben Stokes made five scores of 50-plus in the World Cup and turned up to bat in the Super Over in the final after making an unbeaten 84 earlier in the innings Getty Images

New ECB findings suggest that almost a third of the 15.4 million viewers who watched the World Cup final on free-to-air TV this summer were tuning into cricket for the very first time, as the governing body seeks to build on the sport's success in a memorable summer.

With the ECB chairman and chief executive, Colin Graves and Tom Harrison, preparing to give evidence to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) on Wednesday, the board has released new data that shows the extent to which cricket captured the public imagination in 2019.

Following a late agreement between the ECB and Sky Sports, the World Cup's host broadcaster, the feed for the final was shared with the UK terrestrial channel, Channel Four, and those who tuned in were rewarded with an extraordinary finish, in which Ben Stokes battled back to tie the match after 50 overs, before England lifted the trophy after Jos Buttler's run-out tied the subsequent Super Over and won the match on boundary countback.

According to quantitative and qualitative research that is due to be published in full later this year, 24 million people in England and Wales are believed to have tuned into the World Cup at some stage, while of the 15.4 million who watched the final - the first international fixture to be shown on a terrestrial platform since 2006 - 31 percent were watching cricket on TV for the first time.

At the venues, 52,000 people purchased tickets for the first time, out of a total of 227,000 sales, while 40 percent of fans say that they intend to follow cricket more closely in the next 12 months - a figure that rises to 51 percent for South Asian supporters.

On the participation front, amateur clubs reported a 61 percent increase in membership compared to 2018, and a 62 percent increase in the number of junior players.

That latter figure was aided by the work of the cricket charity, Chance to Shine, which worked in conjunction with the Cricket World Cup schools programme to bring the game to more than 800,000 students in close to 8,000 schools.

ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, said of the figures: "We knew hosting the 2019 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup would give us a great platform from which to diversify and grow the game and these findings demonstrate that we've been able to both reach new fans and to strengthen connections with existing supporters.

"Cricket can play a powerful role in bringing communities together - we witnessed that this summer - and we've seen that moments like the one we saw at Lord's can help to inspire a generation.

"This summer has helped to ignite heightened passion for the game across the country and I look forward to seeing how we utilise that through our 2020-2024 strategy, Inspiring Generations."