London, May 7 : Cricket is dying out in British state schools because of the growing demands of the national curriculum.
Despite a wave of enthusiasm for cricket following England's Ashes victory in 2005, a You Gov survey accessed by The Telegraph said most schools still do not have proper facilities or expert tuition in the sport.
The survey, which was commissioned by the Cricket Foundation charity, found state schools cutting the amount of time available for the arts and sport as head teachers pursue targets to boost their position in league tables.
Sir Tim Rice, the award-winning lyricist and the Cricket Foundation's vice-president, 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.
YouGov polled almost 1,000 parents whose children attend state primary and secondary schools in England and Wales.
Despite Government claims that more than eight in 10 schools offer cricket, just nine per cent of parents said children received coaching or played in a school team.
In schools with a cricketing pedigree, 38 per cent of parents said children played fewer than five matches a year and only one in 10 said more than 15 matches were arranged.
Last month a report by the Central Council of Physical Recreation placed Britain 15th of 27 countries judged by time spent on sport in primary and secondary schools.
Football, hockey, netball and athletics remain the top sports in the state sector.
The survey was commissioned ahead of National Cricket Day on May 20, when thousands of pupils at state and independent schools will take part in cricket-related activities.
Story first published: Wednesday, May 7, 2008, 14:08 [IST]
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