England's rise to No. 1 August 20, 2011

Bopara the flag-bearer needs to succeed

Bar the government cabinet there are few English institutions made up from as narrow a base. Ravi Bopara needs to succeed to inspire future generations
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These are heady days to be an England fan. Not quite the mad-cap euphoria of 2005, instead just an Alastair Cook-like calm that these indeed are the best of times. Yet, despite the overwhelmingly proficient performance from a likable side, a nagging discomfort remains. Worse still, it's one only Ravi Bopara can quell.

England, you see, aren't the most representative of 'national' teams. In fact, bar the government cabinet there are few English institutions made up from as narrow a base. Bopara aside, and his contribution has been negligible, the squad that has taken England to the top is almost all exclusively white and privately-educated. Unlike the 93.5% of the school population who are not.

The few - such as Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett or James Anderson - who aren't, have mostly come through the suburbs, the shires or the strong Northern club system. It suggests that adolescence is the period where coaching can make the most significant difference and if that's the case, England's demographics are a problem.

The resources available to £4964-a-term Dulwich College, or Radley, Bedford or Brighton, each of which can claim a member of the England side, are well beyond what state schools can provide. Moreover, with many inner-city cricket grounds sold off over the last 25 years, there is limited scope for clubs to fulfil the development role either.

The isolation of inner-city England from the rest of the country was felt acutely in the recent unrest and the national cricket team is emblematic of a society that struggles to build meaningful connections to masses of its people.

Though Bopara won't like it, his place near the England team is an important symbol. Sportsmen like Bopara or Usman Khawaja - as the one non-white face in the Australia team of recent years - tend to be uncomfortable flag-bearing for anything other than themselves and their team. When Khawaja was called into the Australia squad during the Ashes, he wanted to be seen as an Australian cricketer, not a pioneering Muslim Australian cricketer.

Though unrealistic, it's understandable and all part of the myth of sport. Part of the reason why sportsmen - cricketers especially - appear so instinctively right-wing is that sport is supposed to be the one place where the utopia of meritocracy is possible.

In theory, the best players are blessed with innate ability that gets honed through years of hard work as they rise to the top of the game. There, they compete against other similarly self-reliant individuals. In theory, any prejudice that affects that process would get exposed in performance, allowing only the best - irrespective of class or colour - to succeed. In theory, to regulate against this free competition, as South Africa's positive discrimination quota used to, is a sin against the principle of competitive sport.

In practice, it is rather more nuanced. History shows many occasions of prejudice triumphing over merit. Be it Apartheid South Africa or the 'gentlemanly' rule in England, cricket has never been divorced of the society in which it is played. Though the politics is not nearly as divisive in England now, the separation of inner-city cricket shouldn't be ignored.

So back to the new world No. 1s. English cricket seems in unspeakably good health. The money from the ECB's Faustian deal with Sky allowed huge sums - £24.8million in the last year alone - to be funnelled into Team England and, from James Taylor to Chris Woakes, there is a stock of highly capable players coming through the ranks.

But beneath the national team there are issues that need confronting. County finances are in distress, with only four posting profits in 2010 and, a more lasting concern, many working-class Asian and African-Caribbean people remain too frequently out of cricket's reach.

Which is not to say the ECB is not trying. It funds a number of schemes aimed at getting urban state-school children involved. Alongside a £14million city cricket initiative with Sport England there is the well-established Chance to Shine, which reached 3354 state schools and almost 350,000 children in 2010 alone.

These programmes could yet bare fruit in a decade's time but giving kids exposure to cricket at school may not be enough. If alongside the day of coaching in a Newham comprehensive, for instance, a child could also see in the England side - the world's best side - one of their own, their own journey would seem much more possible.

Blunt as it may be to thrust the responsibility on a single player, Bopara is the only one in place to be that man. He didn't have a turf pitch to learn his cricket on, and until he was picked up by Essex, he practiced in his school's playground in Ilford. Last month, he attended the launch of a £770,000 ECB-funded scheme to reintroduce the sport to the East End's most famous playing fields, Hackney Marshes.

The problem is that after 11 Tests before this one, the first of which was four years ago, he averages just 31.80. He is yet to shake off suspicion that he's mentally fragile and replacements are queuing up. Taylor has made 401 runs at 80.20 in his last five knocks for England Lions and Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales are all pushing as well.

Any of those could turn into outstanding England players. Yet, while no cricketer deserves their place over another because of their background, it would be especially sad if Bopara ends absent from England's long list of summer successes.

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Quaser on August 22, 2011, 20:34 GMT

    "Celebrate the club culture of British cricket, it has, after decades of under-achievement, played a pivotal role in the rise of England to the top of the world rankings.." a study of club culture, and what exactly changed and why it is suddenly the reason for England's #1 position would be very interesting. Take Middlesex as an example. Check out the clubs' demographics and resources - financial and parental time- schools and we may get an answer. Maybe cricinfo could commission such a study? I like articles such as this - in reflects cricket against the broader societal context - afterall isn't cricket a metaphor for life?

  • Quaser on August 22, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Why change a winning position. If private schools provide the #1 team then so be it. But wait, the same system also produce years of mediocre cricket. The article explores whether there is a need for change, to make cricket a less classist system. This may produce even better teams. Take India, Tendulkar and many others did not go to high fee paying private schools; same with the big names in Pakistan and the West Indies. So there is an alternative to welcoming others in. To quote a handful of state school examples is being complacent. I think one could explore what could be done rather than to defend the present system. Over 90% of the audience at Oval are from state schools. Where are their voices in this forum. 10% of the population are Asian or Black (pl check), do they not feel a tinge of patriotism to see Bopara in a winning team? Where are their voices in this article. This article raises interesting questions; we wait of interesting answers.

  • Devon_Dumpling on August 21, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    I find this a somewhat rudderless article, without any real necessity or foundation for its creation. We have has Shahzad and Rashid represent Enlgand recently, as well as Samit Patel back in the One Day fold. To decry England as some sort of upper class Toffs team is patently unfair and wrong. Where is the denouncement of the Australian team for not having any players of Aboriginal origin at the moment?

    I would argue that if you insist on writing articles like this, that would be a better line to take, as they have a "flat" system in Aus, so everyone gets the same chances and there isnt the competition with football/soccer in the inner cities etc. And yet no non-whites on the radar?

  • OneFineDay on August 21, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    A strange and flawed argument. Schools, other than the very richest, have seldom offered any cricket coaching. It is and always been the domain of clubs to provide facilities and opportunities to young men and women to learn the game. Plus, school holidays of six and up to nine weeks mean the amount of cricket played is minimal, as does the cost of equipment when compared to football. Celebrate the club culture of British cricket, it has, after decades of under-achievement, played a pivotal role in the rise of England to the top of the world rankings. Twenty20 world champions as well. Not bad.

  • 5wombats on August 21, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    @Riingo; A Lennon quote - nice touch - who else could it come from but Riingo!?

  • The_bowlers_Holding on August 21, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    England has always had a disproportionate level of public school educated players this is less so now than in previous generations, it is more the ethos of those schools ie cricket and rugby. The working class are predominantly football orientated but a successful England side will hopefully increase interest as the Honeymaster posted. Let us hope this is the case as the positive aspects of cricket on a youngsters development can only be beneficial to society. This article does highlight more of a class than racial issue as England have surely had a more diverse side than any other in the last 30 years, rich kids get better facilities, better education etc. the cycle continues but lest we forget Botham, Flintoff, Trueman....working class heroes, now that is something to be

  • Chapelau on August 21, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    not sure why this inaccurate and obscure article is still even posted - funny you didn't print my last comment ... too close to home? A little biased?

  • Quazar on August 21, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    I'm not sure Bopara is seen as a flag-bearer, but the private school skew seems to be a valid point. Scyld Berry too wrote a similar article in the Daily Telegraph earlier this year. Unless kids from less well-off backgrounds are given comparable opportunity and resources to develop their talents, how can one compare "merit"?

  • on August 21, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    Where is Owais Shah???????

  • sohel_edinburgh_BD on August 20, 2011, 23:30 GMT

    It seems journalists have noth much to add about CRICKET from this pretty one sided test series. Well, if u cant talk about indian cricketers playing4indian sides, talk about some1 who struggles 2get his place sealed based on performance, not by his ORIGIN! pretty negative,isnt it?I am also pretty surprised to see no comments from indian fans, who left the forum for this series and more willing to comments on Bangladesh's performance against Zimbabwe..I must admit Bangladesh is performing below par this series, but its not distance past that India was appalling in away series, let alone this one (which the big 3 must want2forget except Dravid).It would be interesting though to see how England would perform in testing grounds( outside their comfort zones) in subcontinent soils..that would be the true test for Bell, Anderson, Tremlett and Broad (I'm pretty confident Bresnnan would be the most successful on those conditions). best of luck-like the spirit and professionalism of this team

  • Quaser on August 22, 2011, 20:34 GMT

    "Celebrate the club culture of British cricket, it has, after decades of under-achievement, played a pivotal role in the rise of England to the top of the world rankings.." a study of club culture, and what exactly changed and why it is suddenly the reason for England's #1 position would be very interesting. Take Middlesex as an example. Check out the clubs' demographics and resources - financial and parental time- schools and we may get an answer. Maybe cricinfo could commission such a study? I like articles such as this - in reflects cricket against the broader societal context - afterall isn't cricket a metaphor for life?

  • Quaser on August 22, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Why change a winning position. If private schools provide the #1 team then so be it. But wait, the same system also produce years of mediocre cricket. The article explores whether there is a need for change, to make cricket a less classist system. This may produce even better teams. Take India, Tendulkar and many others did not go to high fee paying private schools; same with the big names in Pakistan and the West Indies. So there is an alternative to welcoming others in. To quote a handful of state school examples is being complacent. I think one could explore what could be done rather than to defend the present system. Over 90% of the audience at Oval are from state schools. Where are their voices in this forum. 10% of the population are Asian or Black (pl check), do they not feel a tinge of patriotism to see Bopara in a winning team? Where are their voices in this article. This article raises interesting questions; we wait of interesting answers.

  • Devon_Dumpling on August 21, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    I find this a somewhat rudderless article, without any real necessity or foundation for its creation. We have has Shahzad and Rashid represent Enlgand recently, as well as Samit Patel back in the One Day fold. To decry England as some sort of upper class Toffs team is patently unfair and wrong. Where is the denouncement of the Australian team for not having any players of Aboriginal origin at the moment?

    I would argue that if you insist on writing articles like this, that would be a better line to take, as they have a "flat" system in Aus, so everyone gets the same chances and there isnt the competition with football/soccer in the inner cities etc. And yet no non-whites on the radar?

  • OneFineDay on August 21, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    A strange and flawed argument. Schools, other than the very richest, have seldom offered any cricket coaching. It is and always been the domain of clubs to provide facilities and opportunities to young men and women to learn the game. Plus, school holidays of six and up to nine weeks mean the amount of cricket played is minimal, as does the cost of equipment when compared to football. Celebrate the club culture of British cricket, it has, after decades of under-achievement, played a pivotal role in the rise of England to the top of the world rankings. Twenty20 world champions as well. Not bad.

  • 5wombats on August 21, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    @Riingo; A Lennon quote - nice touch - who else could it come from but Riingo!?

  • The_bowlers_Holding on August 21, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    England has always had a disproportionate level of public school educated players this is less so now than in previous generations, it is more the ethos of those schools ie cricket and rugby. The working class are predominantly football orientated but a successful England side will hopefully increase interest as the Honeymaster posted. Let us hope this is the case as the positive aspects of cricket on a youngsters development can only be beneficial to society. This article does highlight more of a class than racial issue as England have surely had a more diverse side than any other in the last 30 years, rich kids get better facilities, better education etc. the cycle continues but lest we forget Botham, Flintoff, Trueman....working class heroes, now that is something to be

  • Chapelau on August 21, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    not sure why this inaccurate and obscure article is still even posted - funny you didn't print my last comment ... too close to home? A little biased?

  • Quazar on August 21, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    I'm not sure Bopara is seen as a flag-bearer, but the private school skew seems to be a valid point. Scyld Berry too wrote a similar article in the Daily Telegraph earlier this year. Unless kids from less well-off backgrounds are given comparable opportunity and resources to develop their talents, how can one compare "merit"?

  • on August 21, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    Where is Owais Shah???????

  • sohel_edinburgh_BD on August 20, 2011, 23:30 GMT

    It seems journalists have noth much to add about CRICKET from this pretty one sided test series. Well, if u cant talk about indian cricketers playing4indian sides, talk about some1 who struggles 2get his place sealed based on performance, not by his ORIGIN! pretty negative,isnt it?I am also pretty surprised to see no comments from indian fans, who left the forum for this series and more willing to comments on Bangladesh's performance against Zimbabwe..I must admit Bangladesh is performing below par this series, but its not distance past that India was appalling in away series, let alone this one (which the big 3 must want2forget except Dravid).It would be interesting though to see how England would perform in testing grounds( outside their comfort zones) in subcontinent soils..that would be the true test for Bell, Anderson, Tremlett and Broad (I'm pretty confident Bresnnan would be the most successful on those conditions). best of luck-like the spirit and professionalism of this team

  • on August 20, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    @salazar. Sounds like you didn't read the article. It is NOT about "race" or "colouR but about background. Private school kids play cricket and get coaching, Northern leagues help a bit, but inner city children these days never even see a piece of turf big enough to play cricket on - never mind actually get to play it. If you read the article before diving in feet first you might have known what it was about.

  • chillarparty on August 20, 2011, 19:27 GMT

    huh? what? whats wrong with having white players in the team if the country is 90% white? now dont assume that england team is white biased! The author seems to forget that Nasser Hussain of indian origin used to be the captain of england team. So clearly there is no bias, players are chosen based on merit and requirement to suceed. Bopara is not good enough to be in the team. Be contended that nasser hussain as an indian origin had captained an English team. nuff said Chillar party

  • Joe_Phelan on August 20, 2011, 19:24 GMT

    Utter rot. Ravi Bopara isn't a flag bearer for multiple-cultural Britain. His success or failure won't make the slightest difference to 'the isolation felt by inner city England'. At all levels, Cricket in the UK works hard to be inclusive. This article commits the double sin of playing to a large audience that want to hear a narrative of privileged Britain, whilst casting a young man trying to make it at the highest level in an un-wanted and un-warranted role.

  • Iddo555 on August 20, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    We could ask why India has no white players in the team. England is a white country, is has a 90% white population. Why do people expect that half the team should be of colour? No one expects india or sri lanka or the west indies to have white players. Bottom line, if you're good enough, you'll get in the team and if you're not, you won't and Bopara isn't good enough. It's that simple

    I think it's strange that the writer mentions what is going on in SA as a good thing, he mentions meritocracy. I think what is going on in SA is terrible. I believe in players being picked on merit and they certainly aren't in SA. The quota system is hardly better than what was happening when they had Apartheid. The two systems are still based on race and not on merit. Players should be picked because they are the best, if that means having an all white team or an all black team then so be it.

  • John-Price on August 20, 2011, 14:57 GMT

    There is no doubt that the facilities, coaching, time available for practice,opportunities for match practice etc are superb at many private schools; indeed that is what the parents are paying for. That in turn confers a great advantage to pupils of those schools, and I am certain there are many talented youngsters from state sector who barely even touch a cricket bat in their lives. I don't see what the cricket authorities can do about it though. They cannot conceivably supply funding to offer every youth in the country access to cricket training facilities equal to that offered by the private schools - so their pupils will continue to provide the a high proportion of the England team - especially the batsmen.

  • Sheds on August 20, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    "the squad that has taken England to the top is almost all exclusively white and privately-educated"

    Er... there's nine English educated players in this team. Four of them state educated (Anderson - St Theodore's; Bopara - Brampton Manor; Bresnan - Castleford & Pontefract; Swann - Sponne) and five private (Bell - Princethorope College; Broad - Oakham; Cook - Bedford; Prior - Brighton College; Strauss - Radley).

    That's a large over-representation of private schools in terms of overall population, of course, but not sure it qualifies as "amost exclusively" private school educated.

    Totally agree opportunity should be spread as wide as possible, but arguing from inaccurate statements like this won't help that.

    PS And none of them went to Dulwich College, as far as I can see.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on August 20, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    Having a few sportsmen in a few national sports team, does very little to change peoples attitudes and perceptions. By placing such emphasis on a few individuals to create such societal change is unfair to them, and a disservice to the gravity of the problem.

  • hhillbumper on August 20, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    I would suggest that England has a multi cultural team and picks people on merit.There is a lack of cricket in state schools but a lot of clubs address this need.it shows how poular any player can be for how much monty was taken to heart.Ravi,Monty are English having been raised here.Carbs would have played more but for injury.

  • on August 20, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    If Ravi Bopara were the first non-white person to enter the England team I would agree. However as that isn't remotely true, I don't really see the issue.

    I wish Monty Panesar had not lost form (or could bat). Nothing would make me happier than to see Adil Rashid reach his potential. Devon Malcolm, Philip DeFreitas, Sid Lawrence and any number of others come to mind as former players. It is surprising there are not more examples today. However if ever there was a barrier, that was in the past.

    Nigel Carberry's serious illness has kept him from a chance. Shahzad has apparently lost form. Samit Patel has a strong chance of playing on tour. Above all, nothing would please me more than to see Monty bowl for England again.

    I don't see any reason but coincidence that England's team is now whiter than it has been for many years. Neither does it bother me one way or the other. Two years ago the heroes of this side were not secure in their places. Sheer hard work has made them immovable.

  • Green_How on August 20, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Little bit disappointed with the negativity of this article. I personally would love Bopara to come good and establish himself but if there are better players out there its unfortunate but thats life ! One of the strengths of English crickets is that its not dragged down by the politics that other countries have to deal with. England have picked a number of non white cricketers recently and there are plenty which have a genuine chance of making the winter tours (Samit Patel, Monty Panesar to name a couple). I would also say that the number of privately educated cricketers has diminished in recent years as the England team has shed that stuffy image of the past. Tim Bresnan, James Anderson, Ian Bell of late and recently the likes of Vaughan, Gough, Hoggard have not been privately educated. I would also say that England have been the flag bearer world wide of multi cultural cricket. While i understand the context of the article, its a little of the mark.

  • tomsl on August 20, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    Good private schools, from which these players have emerged, happen to provide bursaries for individuals who demonstrate particularly abilities in academia or sport. So I think you are painting a skewed picture here, because you are looking for players who either showed no talent in their younger years or whose parents probably decided that such a school would not be suitable. Not many people are going to turn down a good bursary which gives their child a better chance of fulfilling their potential for sport, and good coaches outside of these schools are hard to come by.

  • vulpecula on August 20, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    What a load of rubbish. Bopara is that bad, he wouldn't even get in India's team

  • EVH316 on August 20, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    This article makes some valid points. A national side is surely the epitome of a meritocracy though? In which case, Bopara is not even close to my preferred XI. Surely nobody feels that England have quite the some issues about representation that caused the South African`s "quota" debacle.

  • Dale-force_winds_steyn_the_pitch on August 20, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Its very important that he makes the team on merit- as a South African I would know!

  • SDHM on August 20, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    Good article Sahil. I agree that there is a lack of diversity, especially in a society that prides itself on that very quality. A couple of points I'd like to raise though - county finances are in such a parlous state because so many are spending ridiculous amounts on ground upgrades, which might be better in the long run but seems mad when most have no chance of ever hosting international cricket. I think the ECB needs to look into this - limit test matches to certain grounds so counties don't go chasing a mad cap dream perhaps. For others it's more simple - they just don't get the crowds, so better marketing needs to come into it. On the diversity issue, I just feel that so many youngsters are pulled away from cricket now - more money can be earned in football or rugby, and if you look at the national sides they're more diverse. With England now being number one, maybe more kids will want to get into cricket! We can but hope.

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  • SDHM on August 20, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    Good article Sahil. I agree that there is a lack of diversity, especially in a society that prides itself on that very quality. A couple of points I'd like to raise though - county finances are in such a parlous state because so many are spending ridiculous amounts on ground upgrades, which might be better in the long run but seems mad when most have no chance of ever hosting international cricket. I think the ECB needs to look into this - limit test matches to certain grounds so counties don't go chasing a mad cap dream perhaps. For others it's more simple - they just don't get the crowds, so better marketing needs to come into it. On the diversity issue, I just feel that so many youngsters are pulled away from cricket now - more money can be earned in football or rugby, and if you look at the national sides they're more diverse. With England now being number one, maybe more kids will want to get into cricket! We can but hope.

  • Dale-force_winds_steyn_the_pitch on August 20, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Its very important that he makes the team on merit- as a South African I would know!

  • EVH316 on August 20, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    This article makes some valid points. A national side is surely the epitome of a meritocracy though? In which case, Bopara is not even close to my preferred XI. Surely nobody feels that England have quite the some issues about representation that caused the South African`s "quota" debacle.

  • vulpecula on August 20, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    What a load of rubbish. Bopara is that bad, he wouldn't even get in India's team

  • tomsl on August 20, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    Good private schools, from which these players have emerged, happen to provide bursaries for individuals who demonstrate particularly abilities in academia or sport. So I think you are painting a skewed picture here, because you are looking for players who either showed no talent in their younger years or whose parents probably decided that such a school would not be suitable. Not many people are going to turn down a good bursary which gives their child a better chance of fulfilling their potential for sport, and good coaches outside of these schools are hard to come by.

  • Green_How on August 20, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Little bit disappointed with the negativity of this article. I personally would love Bopara to come good and establish himself but if there are better players out there its unfortunate but thats life ! One of the strengths of English crickets is that its not dragged down by the politics that other countries have to deal with. England have picked a number of non white cricketers recently and there are plenty which have a genuine chance of making the winter tours (Samit Patel, Monty Panesar to name a couple). I would also say that the number of privately educated cricketers has diminished in recent years as the England team has shed that stuffy image of the past. Tim Bresnan, James Anderson, Ian Bell of late and recently the likes of Vaughan, Gough, Hoggard have not been privately educated. I would also say that England have been the flag bearer world wide of multi cultural cricket. While i understand the context of the article, its a little of the mark.

  • on August 20, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    If Ravi Bopara were the first non-white person to enter the England team I would agree. However as that isn't remotely true, I don't really see the issue.

    I wish Monty Panesar had not lost form (or could bat). Nothing would make me happier than to see Adil Rashid reach his potential. Devon Malcolm, Philip DeFreitas, Sid Lawrence and any number of others come to mind as former players. It is surprising there are not more examples today. However if ever there was a barrier, that was in the past.

    Nigel Carberry's serious illness has kept him from a chance. Shahzad has apparently lost form. Samit Patel has a strong chance of playing on tour. Above all, nothing would please me more than to see Monty bowl for England again.

    I don't see any reason but coincidence that England's team is now whiter than it has been for many years. Neither does it bother me one way or the other. Two years ago the heroes of this side were not secure in their places. Sheer hard work has made them immovable.

  • hhillbumper on August 20, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    I would suggest that England has a multi cultural team and picks people on merit.There is a lack of cricket in state schools but a lot of clubs address this need.it shows how poular any player can be for how much monty was taken to heart.Ravi,Monty are English having been raised here.Carbs would have played more but for injury.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on August 20, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    Having a few sportsmen in a few national sports team, does very little to change peoples attitudes and perceptions. By placing such emphasis on a few individuals to create such societal change is unfair to them, and a disservice to the gravity of the problem.

  • Sheds on August 20, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    "the squad that has taken England to the top is almost all exclusively white and privately-educated"

    Er... there's nine English educated players in this team. Four of them state educated (Anderson - St Theodore's; Bopara - Brampton Manor; Bresnan - Castleford & Pontefract; Swann - Sponne) and five private (Bell - Princethorope College; Broad - Oakham; Cook - Bedford; Prior - Brighton College; Strauss - Radley).

    That's a large over-representation of private schools in terms of overall population, of course, but not sure it qualifies as "amost exclusively" private school educated.

    Totally agree opportunity should be spread as wide as possible, but arguing from inaccurate statements like this won't help that.

    PS And none of them went to Dulwich College, as far as I can see.