Cricket has lost its status as Australia's most popular sport to tennis, according to a survey released Thursday.
The survey from research consultants Sweeney Sports showed interest in cricket had waned following Australia's 5-0 Ashes whitewash over England in 2006/07, while tennis was enjoying a surge in popularity.
It found 57 percent of Australians either attended tennis events, watched the sport on television or read about it in newspapers over the past year, placing it at the top of the popularity ranking for the first time in 17 years.
Swimming was the next most popular sport on 55 percent while cricket languished in third place on 53 after interest dropped six percentage points over the past year.
Sweeney general manager Todd Deacon said the Australian cricket team's home series against India, which wrapped up early this year, had not generated the same excitement as the Ashes.
"Interest certainly tapered off after the Ashes," Deacon told AFP.
He said tennis had become more popular despite the lack of any Australians in the top 10 largely due to savvy marketing by local administrators and because spectators often followed the fortunes of a favourite player regardless of nationality.
"They attract the world's top players to the lead-up events to the Australian Open -- the likes of the Sydney International and the Kooyong Classic -- and people want to see them," he said.
Deacon said tennis was also popular with women -- 60 percent were interested in the sport compared to 40 percent for cricket.
He said golf was struggling to capture the public's imagination, coming in last of the 10 sports rated, with a popularity rating of 23 percent, eight points down on last year and its lowest score in the survey's 19-year history.
"Golf is on a decline even though we've never had such a depth of talent in this country," Deacon said. "There are two Aussies in the top five and 12 in the top 100 but the top golfers don't play in Australia.
"It may also have something to do with lifestyle changes and how long it takes to play the game."