Cricket all day every day

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SACHIN KUMAR tells us about his work in cricket management

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My job title is Head of Strategy and Scheduling, Cricket Australia
I’ve been in this job for 5 years, 9 months but who’s counting…
My educational qualifications
I have a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Law from UNSW
What the job entails
My job is about articulating the direction of the game in this country; we have a vision to be Australia’s favourite sport and the sport for all Australians.
There are two main parts to my role.
The strategy element is how we’re going to become the best sport in the country and engage everyone.
The other part of the job is scheduling, which is overseeing the short and long term schedule for Australian cricket both at a domestic level and abroad.

On scheduling

What comes out of the scheduling side of my job is the Future Tours program, where each of the countries decide who’s going to play whom in which month and which year.
Right now, I have an Excel sheet which tells us who the Australian cricket team is playing as late as 2025.
We start with the full member nations, Australia plus the nine others – New Zealand, West Indies, India, England, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Then we try and play against the associate countries as well like Ireland.
There are equivalent cricket operations people we negotiate with in each of the other countries. In past year and half, James Sutherland, the CEO of Cricket Australia, and I met with other countries and decided when to play each other.
It’s a bit like diplomacy, when you’re going to these meetings, it feels like you’re at the UN. Most countries have overlapping seasons so it’s not that easy.
It’s a challenge, globally, how can everyone grow and get what they want if their seasons are overlapping, how emerging countries can also get similar opportunities.
We only make money when we play at home. When India comes to us, we can sell those rights globally and vice versa. That’s why the sense of reciprocity is really important.

On strategy: Bringing in women and multicultural communities

There is a lot of work to do in engaging female fans – whether in communities, in clubs, at matches or to make cricket an attractive opportunity for elite female athletes.
T20 is being marketed as family-friendly. The Sydney Sixers have a pink uniform which many years ago would not have been thought possible.
We’re launching the women’s BBL. We unashamedly want it to be the best women’s sport tournament in the world. There’s not a high commercial interest right now but it’s incumbent on us to build a case and compelling product.
People were blown away with how the multicultural community engaged with the World Cup. There’s a significant subcontinent community here, so for the first time in cricket the idea of engaging with the multicultural communities has been elevated as a priority.
We want to step it up and do more and show that this is a game for everyone. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or uncomfortable, there’s these myths we want to dispel.
We’re trying to ensure community competitions are made part of the Cricket Australia system, driving programs in school. We have role models in Uzman Khwaja and Gurinder Sandhu.

Is there such a thing as too much cricket?

I argue there’s not enough cricket. Each market may only have one test or a couple of BBL matches.
When you break it down into each market like Sydney or Melbourne, some may argue it’s not enough. Look at AFL and NRL, there’s so many clubs in each city there but they don’t say there’s too much content, they’re actually happy with it.
At the end of the day we need to have a clear purpose for every format and decide who that format is engaging with. Not all cricket formats appeal to all people.
Test cricket skews toward older males while on the flip side T20 is most popular among kids and is a popular way to introduce the youngsters to cricket.
I don’t think it’s possible to be all things to all people. We want to make sure no matter what age you are or background, there is something for everyone.
Every cricket board has different challenges with their seasons. Part of it is weather –  are certain regions conducive to playing later? Our other challenge with legacy sporting is not just top but also at grassroots level.
AFL uses a lot of our ovals at top and community level so it’s difficult to see fundamental change or shift in seasons. We are finding a challenge where on the margins every code is trying to expand their turf.
AFL creeping into October, NRL with its preseason, with cricket we need to own our own turf and we think owning the turf on the extremities with games like the Matador Cup is extremely important.

What’s a typical day like?

Every day is very different. At a simple level it’s lots of emails, powerpoints and Excel spreadsheets. At a more emotive level it’s having meaningful conversations and making an impact on the greatest game in the world.

The hardest thing about my job

Change not moving quick enough.

The best part of my job

Knowing I’m making a big impact and bringing joy to many people

Someone who has made an impact on my work is

My former boss Andrew Jones, CEO Cricket NSW. He has made a profound impact on how I think about how I can make an impact and taught me about backing yourself all the way.
If you really believe in something, keep going.

How this job has influenced my life

For me this has been a dream gig. I think my perspective on what’s possible with dedication, effort and passion has changed.
Sometimes it has been about being in the right place at the right time, that’s certainly helped get me here, but I have learned so much about making the most of opportunity and not being limited by my role or job title, or level of seniority.

Advice for people who may want to get into the industry

Be honest with yourself about your passion. Try cutting your teeth in a particular vocation before moving into the industry.
Develop your skills in a professional environment and then bring that expertise to a sporting role.
Sometimes people can come in at grassroots levels, running clinics, coaching and so on, but those are different to the more corporate roles.
Overall, be proactive.

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