Fund cricket in state schools to tackle elitism

·1-min read
<span>Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy

The time warp of the cricket establishment was vividly exposed in Barney Ronay’s article (Tin-eared county chairmen show why English cricket is in trouble, 25 January), but the origins of these attitudes are much deeper. Excellence in cricket requires more investment than most other sports; one essential is a well-prepared pitch and level outfield, not least in order to ensure basic safety when coping with a hard cricket ball at speed.

It also requires a coaching programme to develop the complex skills needed for young players to thrive. Alas, nowadays few state secondary schools have the financial capacity to devote to the expense required and very little formal cricket is played in state schools. This means that many interested youngsters, the potential expert cricketers of the future, have no chance to acquire the basic skills, and few come into the county teams’ academies.

A quick glance at the list of players currently on Yorkshire’s books shows that of the 27 educated in the UK, almost all came through public or direct grant schools. No doubt there would be the same proportion of skilled players coming through state schools into the county game, but they are absent through no fault of their own.

The knock-on effect is that the elitist public school culture, which has produced the archaic attitudes of so many in the cabinet and of many Conservative MPs, is also embedded in the cricket establishment, as so clearly set out by Ronay. To change this requires a deliberate investment in the game in state schools to broaden the pool of players.
Michael Meadowcroft

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