As the dust settled on England’s latest humiliation down under, the inquest began immediately. How can county cricket better serve the Test team and produce players better equipped for the longer form? Is the focus on white ball cricket too great? What can be done about this horrendous malaise with the England Test team?
One issue that hasn’t been overly debated is how can the very foundation of cricket in this country – grassroots, club cricket – be sustained so as to provide better pathways into the higher echelons of the game?
Is playing grassroots cricket simply too expensive and time consuming?
If you’re a child not lucky enough to have been born into a financially secure family, with funds scarce, which would you choose? a) Kick a ball around or b) Try to acquire a bat, a ball, padding, a helmet and stumps to play cricket? The bottom line is cricket is a fairly expensive game, and is not accessible to everyone. Somehow, the game needs to become way more accessible, and for all the authorities’ admirable efforts to increase accessibility – through brilliant initiatives such as All Stars Cricket and Dynamos Cricket – there is still a way to go.
Cricket’s Class Ceiling
Around 80% of players in recent England Test squads were privately educated, which speaks volumes for the lack of opportunities for regular, state-school educated kids. The problems run deep. In state schools, cricket is an afterthought, having neither the time nor the resources to make it a priority within its physical education curriculum. Many state schools have had to sell their playing fields due to budget cuts, or simply never had them in the first place.
As of April 2019, 215 playing fields had been sold off in England over the last decade. If you are a child that goes to a school without playing fields, and you don’t live near a cricket club or have a sibling, parent or guardian with an interest and the means to take you there, then you are extremely unlikely to play. And with cricket still hidden behind a paywall, they are unlikely to even develop an interest in it.
Even for those kids making it into the pathways, progress comes at a price. For any kid excelling and working their way through the pathways, into the county system, cricket’s expense skyrockets. Sky Sports pundit and former England batsman Rob Key recently explained:
What are the solutions? Is it sustainable at grassroots level?
At Kudos, cricket is one of our key sports, one of the cornerstones of our business. We supply cricket kit – in whites and colours – to a raft of clubs around the country. We’d love to hear from people involved at clubs, whether players, coaches or volunteers, and see what the view on the ground is. What can be done to improve grassroots cricket? To make it sustainable, and more accessible? Let us know!
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