Educating Cricket: Does cricket have an elitism problem?

 

Cricket is becoming increasingly dominated by privileged, privately educated people, reveals a new study from Cricket Bet India.

Research shows that around 63% of international cricketers to play a Test match for the ‘Big Three’ of England, Australia and India in 2020 were brought up through private education before playing for their countries.

A study conducted by Cricket Bet India, Educating Cricket, has studied the backgrounds of each Test cricket from England, Australia, India and South Africa to look at the number of privately-educated players in each side, and compare the figures to other major sports in the UK.

Just 37.5%, or six, of the players to play Test cricket for England in 2020 were educated in state schools (Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood) and five of them were bowlers – four of whom are from the north of the UK.

However there are concerns that the cricket side is becoming out of touch with the majority of the public, with just 6% of the national population educated in private schools – a long way apart from the 62.5% in the England side, suggesting cricket is becoming increasingly elitist. 

Even in the professional men’s game, 46% are educated at private schools which suggests a private education improves the chances of making it as an international, while 43% were state-educated (way down from the national average of 94%) and 11% internationally educated.

The England women’s team is much more balanced, with a split of 27.2% privately educated and 72.8% educated in the state system.

The India team has a representation of 81.8% privately-educated players, up from the national average of 47.6%, while Australia is much more balanced at 40% (national average of 34.3%).

>South Africa have had issues with representation in international sport and particularly cricket since their readmission in 1991, and just three of their 14 players to play in the Test series against England attended a state school with 78.6% privately educated (compared to a national average of 3%).

The England football team however is again more accessible and has more obvious working class roots in the game, with 86.7% of the XI that played in October’s game against Belgium educated in state schools – exposing a real gulf between the two sports.

The England rugby team is unsurprisingly the most dominated by privately educated stars, with 86.7% of the starting XV against Italy in the Six Nations finale attending private/independent schools and just two players – Jonny Hill and Kyle Sinckler – attending state schools.

 

Below is a table on the education splits among all professionals across three major sports in the UK – Dec 2020

SportPrivate schools %State schools %Overseas schools %
Men's football10891
Men's cricket464311
Men's rugby45478
Women's football2944
Women's cricket50500
Women's rugby14824

 

Education background for England’s International Cricket, Rugby & Football teams – Dec 2020

TeamPrivate schools %State schools %Overseas schools %
England men’s cricket 62.537.5-
England women’s cricket 27.272.8-
England men’s football 6.786.76.7
England men’s rugby 86.713.3-

 

Cricket Bet India compiled lists of the schools attended by members of the England, Australia, India and South Africa cricket teams, as well as the England men’s football team, the women’s cricket team and the men’s rugby team.

CountryPopulation in private schools (%)Privately educated players in national team
England662.5
India47.681.8
Australia34.340
South Africa378.6

You can view each school attended by the players to feature in 2020 here.

Sources: Sutton Trust, The Times, gov.uk, abs.gov.uk, The Citizen, Times of India, The Independent, ABC.net

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