London:The commercial hub of cricket may have shifted to the Indian sub-continent, but is the game dying out in England, the home of cricket? A new survey of parents suggests that only one on 10 children in England plays cricket at school. In short, competitive cricket has become a minority interest in schools here.
English parents believe that professional cricketers made far better role models than football stars, according to the survey by poll company YouGov.
"The YouGov survey is a reminder of what exactly cricket can uniquely offer, but also how much more needs to be done," said Nick Gandon, director of the Cricket Foundation, which commissioned the study.
In the poll of nearly 1,000 parents, just nine per cent said their children received coaching or were part of school cricket teams.
More than half - 53 per cent - of parents of state school pupils believed sporting activities had an impact on children's academic work.
Nearly 90 per cent thought playing cricket and other competitive sports boosted children's confidence and helped them develop life-skills such as team-work, discipline and resilience.
But 84 per cent parents said their child did not receive cricket coaching or play in a school team.
Reacting to it, Cricket Foundation's vice-president, Tim Rice said the decline in cricket was "symptomatic of the rather bad education system in this country where team games and sport has been downgraded as unimportant".
"Team sports like cricket are incredibly important for children but in many schools we find that either the finance isn't there or staff simply don't have the time. It is tragic," he said.
However, a spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families denied saying "this is not a picture we recognise".
On May 20, hundreds of state primary and secondary schools in England and Wales will hold a day of cricket-related activities to mark the third anniversary of Chance to Shine - the campaign to educate school children through competitive cricket.