Cricket, whether at Lord’s or on the village green, is the essence of the English summer — but it needs our help

The World Cup has passed in glory and now the Ashes between England and Australia takes centre stage, but all is not well in the world of cricket. Country Life pleads with those who are toying with the idea of playing to cross the boundary rope and get involved.

In gardens all over England, we can imagine the sound of bat and ball as young boys and girls get to grips with the pull, hook, drive and sweep, the nuances of leg and off spin and the genuine thrill of bowling fast. On village greens, residents turn out for local teams, indulging themselves in the languid forms of amateur cricket under the baking sun, basking in the traditions of a game that’s been around longer than almost any other.

It may be a far cry from a few Sundays ago at Lord’s, when England breathlessly lifted the World Cup to the roars of 30,000 spectators. The polite applause of the score-keeping vicar may seem a world away from the limb-flaying carnage of the final, but cricket, from its village greens to its home in St John’s Wood is, and always will be, a community.

However, although the sounds and sights of men and women in white will always smack of summer, all is not necessarily well.

‘If the World Cup and the Ashes are to mean anything, they must be a launchpad from which we rebuild the passion in this most English of sports’

The Afghan player Morteza Ali fled his country as a teenager after his family was murdered by the Taliban; as a refugee, in Oxfordshire, and at Cumnor Cricket Club, he found a new one. ‘Cricket saved me,’ he said in a recent interview. Now, it’s time for us to save cricket.

In 2016, a Sport England survey revealed a 12% fall in participation. Clubs are struggling to field teams and schools are striking it from their curriculums. Cannock Cricket Club, Staffordshire, a club with a 159-year history, is homeless after its ground, Chase Park, was placed into receivership.

If the World Cup and the Ashes are to mean anything, they must be a launchpad from which we rebuild the passion in this most English of sports. All the stars from this summer the Buttlers and the Bairstows, the Roots, the Smiths and the Starcs — began their careers in a garden and on a village green.

Village green cricket match and sign for players wanted

If you were one of the millions captivated by England’s win at Lord’s, the message is simple: go and play. Take your child outside and inspire in them a love for the game. Blow the dust off your old bat and find a club.

The England team was told that winning was key for cricket’s future, but so, too, is participation, not only by batting and bowling, but by simply turning up to your local club or county to watch or help. Our stars have held up their end of the bargain.