Scyld Berry in his book Cricket The Game of Life points to the importance of having attended a fee-paying school, or having a close relative who has played cricket at a high level, or having been born in Lancashire or Yorkshire to the chances of having played Test cricket for England. Those that have one or more of these advantages are not an especially large subset of the population, and as he says ‘the waste has been enormous’, at least looked at from a cricketing point of view.
With this in mind taking a look at the 18 FCC squads this year a majority of the 432 players are either from overseas or educated at independent schools. Players educated in state schools are now some 41% of the total, a figure that appears to have declined since 2013 when some research undertaken by the Chance to Shine charity and published in The Independent found a figure of 50%.
Whether this is an indication of a downward trend that has further to run is moot. The establishment of Chance to Shine in 2005 is associated with the stat of state schools playing cricket having declined to 1 in 10, the average age of players now is around 27 meaning that many would have begun playing in school around the turn of the century, if not before, so it could be. A bit more cheerfully of those who appeared in the Championship games last month just over a half were English and state school educated.
62 of the 321 England qualified players have a relative who played FCC, a figure that rises to 114 if minor county, 2nd XI and league players are included. Cricket, a relatively technical game, seen by some as an acquired taste and family members to share an interest a help.
Lancashire or Yorkshire born players count 59 this year, a bit above the general population shares of the two counties, if the count is of England qualified players, a bit below if it is of all players. Almost half of them are contracted to the county where they born and educated; across all counties this proportion is around 1 in 4 of those who are English, so some basis still for the county structure to the domestic game.
The number of players born in Cardiff, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton taken together can be counted on two hands. In relation to all things 2020 this may not matter much, or at all, playing wise. If, though, the numbers of players coming through from those cities bears some relation to the wider interest of their generation in those conurbations, then a message about the numbers of potential spectators.