How reliant is the County Championship on fee-paying schools for players? Just over a half last summer (55%) came through one, not as high a figure as pieces on the England team might sometimes hint at, but still very disproportionate. Alternatively counting appearances gives a similar %, the variation between some of the counties striking if not especially surprising.
The numbers are based on 97% of the 284 who played, self-replies from the players to the archive. Allowing for overseas players around 120 names on the season’s team sheets is typical for a county, so a 10% difference between may be just one player, fuzziness on the detail of who counts as English-qualified.
But the overall average is a reasonable guide to a half of them. At one end Durham, with more players coming through catholic schools than some; Essex, players significantly drawn from the county and east London. At the other when Somerset played Surrey last summer 16 of the 18 English players had at some point been to a fee-paying school; the two not currently on tour with England.
Also in the archive a record of Jimmy Anderson taking wickets for Burnley IIIs as a 13 year-old at Turf Moor in 1996; another world, one where the BBC was covering Test matches. In 2023 he was one of 85 players over the age of 30 who appeared in the Championship: around a third of them went to private schools, among the under 25s (there were 92 of them) the proportion was close to twice that.
Going by the numbers in the 2022 season including white-ball players gives patterns that are broadly similar. Reversing, or even just moderating a trend years, decades, in the making looks like a long road, the follow on is how far will ECB and county managers be heading along it.?