Wisden sums up England's failings during reflection on sorry period

Cricket Appeal

The launch of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack typically signifies the start of summer and it usually manages to sum up the state of the game in its 'Notes by the editor' section.

This year - the 152nd edition - it is no different and the weighty tome lays into an England side that editor Lawrence Booth points out endured 28 losses across all formats in 2014 - the worst by any top international side since the spot-fixing-laden Pakistan team of 2010.

Booth covers all of the oft-discussed areas: the "botched PR battle" with Kevin Pietersen; a hierarchy engaged in "mutual backslapping" - one that has emerged almost entirely unscathed from the debacle of the past 18 months - and a sport that was once considered the national summer game again largely locked off free-to-air television.

He also touches on the takeover at the top of the ICC by the big three - England (ECB), Australia (CA) and India (BCCI) - as well as including more positive stories. These include the introduction of a women's cricketer of the year - won by Australia's Meg Lanning - as well as the naming of the five Wisden cricketers of the year which celebrate the summer gone. Adam Lyth is a representative of Yorkshire's County Championship success, while Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews makes the cut following his side's Test triumph, as do Warwickshire's New Zealand stalwart Jeetan Patel and England newbies Gary Ballance and Moeen Ali.

The inclusion of Ali in this list leads Booth to make arguably his most important points in a typically forthright way. He writes, in a year during which the ECB itself recorded a drop in participation figures: "It is perverse to be so reliant on southern Africans (Ballance) and smash-and-grab raids across the Irish Sea (Eoin Morgan), and so ignore the more natural solution (England's large population of Asian origin) on our doorstep." He may have also added that the continued reliance on public schools is equally troublesome. All of which brings us back to free-to-air TV debate. If only someone in a position of authority would listen.

Booth sums it up best, writing: "Give people the chance to tune into live cricket and it has a fighting chance of entering the national debate. Ten years on from the greatest Test series of the lot cricket is loitering at the edges of the conversation."