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 %
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?