Category Archives: The ECB

Cricket and Equity

Multi-year central contracts for England players and the ECB’s response to the Independent Commission’s equity report were in the news last month.  From the MCC museum a reminder, about change, and how well some have done from decades of globalisation and  paywall TV revenues. The 1980 figure equates to around £50k today, that summer  tickets to watch the West Indies in front of the the Tavern bar were within reach of folks with limited means: students, people doing manual jobs.

While the rewards at the top have increased enormously  the number of recreational players has declined steeply and into the world of 2023, an equity report aiming to tackle racism, sexism and elitism in cricket. As a row 30 spectator no experience of the above, it’s not easy to get a sense of how  widespread personal prejudice is: 4,000+ responded to the Commission but the unknowable is just how typical their experiences are of everyone else. It struck me that the aims of the report are admirable but  given their scope very ambitious.

It’s not news that  disproportionate numbers of recreational players  now have a  South Asian heritage or (given the numbers of pros who have) probably been to an independent school; in a way it’s a good thing  that cricket has such a hold on some, where would it be without them. But given the stated aim is to make the sport  more representative overall, would a big, disproportionate increase in women players come with a fall or rise in the  % from independent schools?

Could be either; aims that don’t always rub together are a problem, among others, and at least a de facto set of priorities be needed, particularly when set against the big financial decisions. Private investment ahoy?- billionaires to pay the millionaires more while tickets, even at the Home of Cricket, are within reach for those with limited means, bear some general connection to what they were in 1980?

Stranger things have happened, although if football is a marker that won’t be the story with tickets and, for the profit-minded, given the production line of the best players has increasingly been independent schools, why bother to fund county cricket, certainly the 18-county version? If push came to vote and the downside of the status quo is a T20 competition being ranked 3rd  after the IPL,  personally that’s what I’d vote for.












Cricket and Race

Critics of English cricket point to the disproportionately high number of club players of a South Asian heritage, figures of 30%+ and then question why so few play in  county cricket, suggestive that culture,  prejudice, frustrates the careers of talented players. How much this might be down to what goes on inside dressing rooms is moot, a question for insiders.

As to the stats  trawling through Cricket Archive for the players who appeared in the Premier Leagues last summer, set up by the ECB to bridge club cricket and the counties,  the % from a South Asian heritage was around half the number above: 28% in Leicestershire, 3% in Cornwall, Yorkshire, around 15% across the county as a whole. As to the numbers of county cricketers in 2022: 6% English qualified, around 10% of the 500+ total including those that weren’t.

So 30%+ to 16% to 6%, why the drop-off? The playing numbers of an age in different ethnicities where they might make it professionally might be one thing, but absent the detail open as to whether it lessens the drop or increases it. Differences  in education? The numbers below are not those of a country replicating the inequalities of past generations, and the Asian-White difference in particular has widened markedly in the last decade.

State School Students with Higher Education Places 2021 %

Asian 55
Black 49
Chinese 72
Mixed 41
White 33
Other 48


Cricket careers are risky, often short-term and it seems fair to think education is a fundamental and maybe  large  influence behind the drops. It’s a comment that could also  be made in relation to other ethnicities where there seems to be a similar pattern, Jewish cricketers for example.

Of the 24 English players from South Asian families who played for a county last summer 10 had been to an independent school at some point.  It’s a slightly smaller proportion than for county players generally, but broadly the playing base of English cricket is excessively reliant on three minorities: those with a South Asian heritage, those that have been privately educated and those who are neither but have a relative who has played the game. It’s about 1 in 6 of the general population and the obvious strategic question is what about everyone else?