The ECB's strategy to implant itself once again as a sport second only to football extends well beyond the discussions about how to regenerate the professional game.

Deep-seated problems in the recreational game, with many long-standing clubs struggling for survival, impacts not just on participation levels, or upon the potential fans of tomorrow, but undermines cricket's place in the social fabric. The ECB's consultative document, the "Strategy Consultation Summary" which was exclusively revealed by ESPNcricinfo, has a raft of sensible proposals about how to respond.

If the ECB brand is regarded as toxic, suggested by a planned change of brand to Cricket England & Wales, it is particularly regrettable at this level where much good work is attempted, and many grants awarded, with little publicity.

At this stage in the process, however, the ideas - as worthy as many are - do not form a coherent national policy as much as a series of initiatives, many already underway, which seek to maximise cricket interest at a time when many players want many different things.

"Increased player retention (various ages)" is listed as the No. 1 goal, and the recent fall in participation numbers suggests such aspirations will be hard won.

Many juniors stop playing the game once they become more socially active, with cricket not producing enough national heroes to persuade them to continue. Many more players are lost as soon as relationships, and young families, make the long Saturday afternoons a show of independence too far: it is not for the ECB to lead a philosophical debate on the nature of love and individuality.

Many of those players - natural spectators in professional cricket - instead gradually lose contact with the game.

A rise in Twenty20 cricket at club level, especially in midweek, but also considered as salvation for Saturday afternoons nearer the foot of the pyramid, inevitably is part of the solution with the ECB proposing "customer-led competitions and clubs, which fit with modern society and lifestyles".

But the ECB is also promoting Last Man Stands - an eight-a-side version of the game involving 20 five-ball overs - which has been adopted with some enthusiasm but which, counter intuitively, clashes with the short-form product it regards as the potential saviour of the professional game.

More emphasis will also be placed on facilitating indoor competitions to provide "year-round opportunity to play the game" - another way of ensuring players do not become entirely divorced from the game.

It is also good to see Cage Cricket get a favourable mention. Perhaps now Hampshire, a strong advocate, will get more support for the grant they requested. The game was well received at the Ageas Bowl Test against India, even if you did need a Maths degree to understand the scoring system: so very cricket, a game forever caged in its own complexity.

The difficulty, with many amateur clubs still operating outside ECB auspices, is whether some of the leagues, characteristically ruled by arch conservatives, will show any willingness to listen. Good league and club officials are hard to find. For every amateur cricket official who is driven by a praiseworthy desire to promote and spread the game there is another who is a roadblock to change.

For a generation or more, the ECB has been trying to cajole leagues into embracing the sort of pyramid system that by and large was adopted in football nearly half a century ago. Only in this way do the best clubs, and the best amateur players, progress. Progress continues - the Yorkshire leagues, for instance, are finally beginning to respond favourably - but it has been a painfully slow process.

The relationship between the ECB, the counties, the county boards and the clubs is not one designed in heaven. It is good to hear the ECB referring in its consultative document to the need for "a better aligned league/county structure a structure fit for purpose" and the need to "engage" with the more recalcitrant leagues.

The ECB will seek to increase its number of Focus Clubs, especially at the highest level of club cricket, where longer formats can be expected to survive. It is for these clubs that the ECB can encourage good practice, but there are already complaints about the bureaucracy involved: simplicity should be the watchword.

On women's cricket, too, the ECB senses a chance to spread the game as well as improving income streams. "Women - making the most of the economic opportunity; real iconic figures visible," is the message.

The ECB has also been enlightened in its promotion of cricket in schools, and continues to support the admirable Chance to Shine charity, which works to keep cricket alive in the state sector. But cricket's perpetual over-reliance on the private sector has tended to create state PE teachers who are not just unconcerned about cricket, but who are actively resistant of it because of their own lack of specialist knowledge.

"Council-run cricket grounds were no longer a sensible option even before government cuts began to bite"

That challenge will be met head on by the development of a school Twenty20 competition. The ECB will do will to place the emphasis heavily on the state sector where the need is greatest.

The ECB also has a real commitment to protecting cricket in the inner cities and among Asian communities which often, but not always, amounts to the same thing.

Reversing the loss of city cricket grounds, though, will not be achieved without buying the land, developing or improving a ground then entrusting a club to look after it. Council-run cricket grounds were no longer a sensible option even before government cuts began to bite.

Problems with the quality of squares, and the absence of voluntary labour, has understandably led the ECB to explore an extension of artificial wickets: again, grants are increasingly available.

But even this should not be regarded as a perfect solution. A vandalised artificial strip becomes an eyesore. A vandalised grass pitch is simply repaired. And, a courageous governing body might even try to argue that the intricacy of pitch preparation is all part of the fun. After all, there are few things in life more rewarding than rolling a cricket square on a sunlit summer's evening.