Home » UK PM Rishi Sunak announces £35m investment for grassroots cricket

UK PM Rishi Sunak announces £35m investment for grassroots cricket

In a significant move to bolster the grassroots of the sport, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a £35m investment in cricket across England and Wales. This investment aims to address the longstanding criticism that the national teams have been dominated by players from private schools and to make the game more accessible to individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Cricket in the UK has faced scrutiny in recent years due to the revelations that the majority of players in the current England squads attended private schools. This has raised concerns about the sport’s inclusivity and the barriers faced by those from less privileged backgrounds in accessing the game.

The new investment is part of the government’s broader plan to get one million more young people physically active by 2030, with a particular focus on the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in 2026 and the men’s tournament in 2030.

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Huge potential to grow the sport: Rishi Sunak

Sunak, who fondly recalls watching Hampshire play at his local ground in Southampton as a child, expressed his belief in the vast potential for cricket to grow even further and become more inclusive.

“I first experienced the magic of cricket watching Hampshire play at my local ground in Southampton as a child. There remains huge potential to grow the sport even further and open it up to everyone, from all backgrounds and in all parts of the country,” he told The Independent. 

The most significant aspect of the investment is the construction of 16 all-weather cricket domes in the host cities of the 2026 Women’s T20 World Cup. These domes will provide a safe and accessible space for training and playing, particularly in areas with diverse communities.

This initiative follows the successful implementation of the first such dome in Bradford, which has already had a positive impact on the local community’s engagement with the sport.

The chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Richard Thompson, was also very much pleased with the decision, “It’s our ambition that cricket becomes the most inclusive sport in the country and that starts by giving children the chance to play from an early age and from whatever background or community they come from,” he said.

“Cricket is a diverse sport and our game has a unique reach across the UK’s population. Hosting both a women’s and a men’s Cricket World Cup between 2026 and 2030, and the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics for the first time in almost 130 years, gives us a platform to reach more young people than ever before and we’re excited about that as a game,” he further added.

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In addition, £14 million of the funding will be allocated to three charities, Chance to Shine, Lord’s Taverners, and ACE. These work with children from African or Caribbean backgrounds and will use the investment to deliver 2,500 pieces of equipment to schools and facilitate 930,000 children playing cricket over the next five years.

England’s veteran pacer James Anderson also spoke about the lack of opportunities through state schools, “I know from first-hand experience that accessing cricket from a state school is not always the easiest route into the game, so it’s fantastic to hear that today’s announcement will support state school students,” he told.

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