The British South Asian pathway into elite cricket

PhD researcher Tom Brown is investigating why, despite its immense popularity, so few British South Asian cricketers make the leap into the professional game.

Tom Brown's research investigates why so few South Asian cricketers make the jump into turning professional.


  • Tom Brown

Research background

Cricket is incredibly popular in the subcontinent, to the extent where it is actually referred to as a second religion. Therefore, it is unsurprising that a third of the recreational playing demographic in the UK is made up of British South Asian (BSA) people.

However, what is surprising is that there is a dramatic decline in BSA representation at professional low - recent reports show it has fallen below five percent. 

Identifying factors which contribute to the disparity in BSA representation between the recreational and professional game could have huge performance and financial ramifications for English and Welsh cricket.   

After securing employment as a coach at Warwickshire County Cricket Club (WCCC), one of England's finest clubs and a county with a high population of British South Asian people, has placed researcher Tom Brown in an ideal position to undertake research into this.

The project is part-funded by WCC, as well as Essex County Cricket Club, another region with a high population of BSA people.

Research aims

This study aims to identify the possible factors contributing to the disparity in representation of BSAs within the recreational and first-class cricket in England and Wales.

As a result, organisations such as the England Cricket Board could implement interventions designed to increase BSA representation at the professional level.

How has the research been carried out?

This study uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques or “mixed methods” to undertake an in-depth analysis of the elite pathway process. Therefore, this study will be split into two phases.

The first of which will collect quantitative data from players’ performances during the training and playing seasons. This data collection will include fitness testing, anthropological profiling, psychological profiling (Psychological Characteristics of Developing Excellence Questionnaire & Social Identify Questionnaire), performance background check (Participation History Questionnaire) and match performance statistics. 

 The second phase will collect qualitative data regarding the unique experiences of players from White British (WB) and BSA backgrounds within the elite performance pathway programme.

The phase will consist of several focus groups whose participants will be:

  • Players who achieved academy status but not professional;
  • Players who achieved professional status;
  • Elite coaches.

Participants will be placed into groups based on their ethnicity (BSA and WB).  

Supporting studies
  • Sociodemographic analysis of the ECB’s 18 first-class Talent Pathways and professional playing staff. Using data from the 2011 national census as well as the Independent School’s Council and Department for Education, to create national norms regarding players ethnicity and relative access to wealth (RAW).
  • A retrospective analysis of player’s match analysis data to analyse trends in players performances and additionally create performance barometers which lead to success/ professional status. Data will include the amount of runs a batter scores at each county age-group alongside their batting average. Additionally, bowlers’ total wickets taken will be collected alongside their bowling average.

Intended outcomes

Results have highlighted a distinct over-representation of privately educated, White British cricketers in the professional county circuit (England and Wales) which indicates that there is both a RAW and ethnicity biases within the first-class counties TDPs and at PS.

This revelation received widespread attention in national media, including pieces in BBC Sport

As such, the results of our ongoing studies hope to identify the causes behind such findings, which could lead to the implementation of effective interventions designed to decrease or eradicate this bias.

More information can be found via this published report.