Malcolm Knox and Nigel Gladstone set out to investigate rumours that Cricket Australia’s participation figures — a record 1.65 million in 2019 — were inflated.
They spent more than 250 hours crosschecking CA’s open-source database against numbers from 14,500 clubs across Australia, establishing that there were fewer than 250,000 individual players, while CA claimed nearly 700,000 club cricketers. Within days of their reporting, CEO Kevin Roberts acknowledged in a letter to stakeholders that CA had failed club cricket by not addressing its decline and undertook to meet the community’s concerns. CA promised to improve its data collection and reporting and next year publish the number of unique cricketers in Australia.
Malcolm Knox has worked for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun Herald since 1994 in various roles, including literary editor, investigations reporter, chief cricket writer and assistant sports editor. Since 2011, he has been a sports columnist. Knox is also the author of 21 books of fiction and nonfiction. This is his third Walkley Award.
Nigel Gladstone started his journalism career at the Manly Daily as an intern in 2012 and worked across Sydney at local newspapers such as the North Shore Times, Blacktown Advocate and Inner West Courier. After starting as a part time data journalist for New Corp’s NewsLocal group of newspapers in 2015, Gladstone joined The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017 as a data journalist covering health, education, city planning, the environment, the economy, politics and sport.
“This story had real impact. It was told using a range of reporting methods, including meticulous research, data visualisation, an interactive widget, colour and analysis. It forced Cricket Australia to acknowledge an issue it “overlooked” to protect commercial and government relationships, ultimately failing its own club cricket stakeholders.”