Educating the Next Generation: the Impact of Schools on International Cricket

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Grassroots cricket is dying. Since 2010 the numbers of people playing cricket at club level and within schools has fallen by almost 120,000. In 2014 alone there were 64,000 less people playing the game than the previous year. The question, therefore, is why?

The biggest driving force behind increased participation in any sport tends to be success on the big stage, whether this is Bradley Wiggins winning the 2012 Tour de France, Tiger Woods dominating golf throughout the early to mid-2000’s or England winning the 2005 Ashes. So naturally, this is the first thing you’d look at when trying to diagnose the problem.

With four Ashes wins since the disastrous tour of 2006/07 you’d think that would have had a positive impact on participation, but this is not the case with club cricket.

Following the 2-1 Ashes win in the summer of 2009, there was growth in the participation of over 60,000 throughout 2010. A positive start, however, from 2010 onwards there is little in the way of positivity. A relatively constant fall from 403,100 participants in 2010 to 278,600 in 2016, interrupted only following a home Ashes win in 2013. With a decrease even coming in the summer of 2011 after a series win in Australia the first since 1986/87.
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The sheer volume of the national sides success in recent years goes a long way to proving that a deeper-rooted issue exists within the country.

The impact of schools

Generally, a person’s interest and participation in cricket is born in two places; either the home, thanks to influence from family members, or in school. I am going to begin by looking at the issues with cricket in the education system and to do this we can once again look at the England test side. Only around seven percent of children in England are privately educated, yet in recent years as many as nine out of the eleven players taking the field for England have been privately educated. The mere fact that more privately educated than state educated players are in the side is alarming due to how small a proportion of the total population this accounts for.

The fact is that up to nine of the best eleven cricketers in England are coming from only seven percent of the population. This means that there is a lack of cricketers being produced by state schools, only a handful of international cricketers being produced by 93% of the population is a cause for concern. The most obvious reason for this disparity is the volume of cricket being played which for the most part is incomparable between the two schooling systems.
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In most state schools cricket will be limited to one or two hours per week, for no more than a couple of months in the summer, whereas many private schools will have state of the art facilities with cricketers being trained multiple times a week by trained coaches. This increased encouragement, as well as the greater financial backing which tends to come with being privately educated, is more than likely what is causing such as disparity at the highest level.

Not only would pushing cricket more in state schools have a beneficial impact on the professional game, it would also get thousands of more people plying their trade in local cricket. For that reason it is imperative.

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