The editor of Wisden says it is imperative for England’s cricket administrators to better engage with Britain’s Asian communities if the English game is to prosper.
In his editorial for the latest edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, Lawrence Booth said that the perception among British Asians was that their talents were not wanted.
“The English game needs an Asian player to prosper beyond a few Tests here and there.
“If the England team really want to unlock their full potential, it is perverse to be so reliant on (white) southern Africans and (Irish players), and so ignore the more natural solution on our doorstep”, Booth said.
His comments come as a study commissioned by the ECB found that the number of people playing cricket in teams saw a 7% decline between 2013 and 2014 – from 908,000 to 844,000.
Commentators say this is, in large part, a result of waning interest among potential players from South Asian backgrounds.
“There remains a damaging perception among Britain’s South Asian communities that its best young cricketers are not wanted”, Booth said.
The findings have led to the ECB to support a number of community projects over the past 24 months, which include sponsorship of a Tamil cricket festival and the Asian Cricket Awards.
Wisden too appeared to acknowledge the issue by placing Pakistani-origin England all-rounder Moeen Ali on the cover of this year’s Almanack and named him one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year, alongside Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, England batsman Gary Ballance, New Zealand spinner Jeetan Patel, and Yorkshire batsman Adam Lyth.
Prolific Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara – who retired from One Day International cricket after the World Cup – was named the Leading Men’s Cricketer in the World whilst Australia captain Meg Lanning was named the as the first ever Wisden’s Leading Woman Cricketer in the World.