Reminds me a bit of Usman Khawaja’s article about the hostility of Australian cricket to aspiring players from immigrant backgrounds. Apparently 30% of recreational cricket players in the UK are from South Asian backgrounds, but only 5% of their professional players are.
I also did not realise that cricket has only been available on pay TV in the UK since 2005, which naturally makes it a low-profile sport to many young people (there’s a tidbit provided about kids being asked to list 10 sports, and 60% of those kids not thinking to list cricket as one of them). Plus the article mentions it’s an expensive sport to get started in (bats, pads, helmets, etc.) so if low-income kids are going to get into a sport, it’s probably going to be something else.
It does feel like a stretch to suggest that this is “THE” reason England lost the Ashes, but it also seems likely that a lot of England’s best raw talent is not actually taking up cricket, or not making it through to the levels where selectors might spot them. If you’re not starting with all the best people, you’re not giving yourself the best chance.