80 school cricket pitches in England lost since Tories came to power, new figures reveal as Ashes series gets underway

150 publicly-accessible cricket pitches have also been lost since 2010

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Thursday 01 August 2019 11:34 BST
England cricket team meet Theresa May at Downing Street after winning World Cup

80 school cricket pitches have been lost since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, new figures have revealed.

The data was released as the 2019 Ashes series between England and Australia gets underway.

It follows a finding that 150 publicly-accessible cricket pitches have also been lost since 2010.

According to analysis by the House of Commons Library, 155 school cricket pitches in England have been closed since 2010, while only 75 have been built – a total loss of 80.

This cricket pitch cuts are part of wider closure of grassroots sporting facilities.

2,488 school grass pitches of all kinds have closed since 2010, and 677 publicly accessible tennis courts have also been scrapped.

Labour blamed cuts to school budgets for the decrease.

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader and shadow culture secretary, said: “It is a scandal that 80 cricket pitches have been scrapped from schools in England, leaving many children and young people without the access to the game.

“The nail-biting final of the Cricket World Cup held millions of viewers transfixed, and the public will be eagerly anticipating the start of the Ashes series. This summer has reignited the public’s love of cricket.

“That’s why it’s such a shame to see that opportunities to play cricket in school are dwindling. The government must end school cuts to ensure that grassroots cricket is open to everyone.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Schools and councils are only permitted to sell playing fields if it does not impact their curriculum and they can provide alternative playing fields or suitable facilities that can provide greater access to sporting activity.

“The number of school playing fields sold since 2010 represents only a small proportion of the thousands of schools in England.

“Increasing numbers of Multi Use Games Areas are also being built on school sites to enhance sporting provision. The department will shortly be issuing guidelines to schools and local authorities to improve procurement of them.”

England are hoping for further success in the five-test Ashes series after winning the Cricket World Cup earlier in the summer. The first test, at Edgbaston, gets underway on Thursday. You can follow The Independent's coverage here.

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