Cricket has been the favourite summer sport of the English for as long as many of us can remember. There are now signs, however, that this traditional game may be in trouble.
In 2005 England took on Australia in one of sport's oldest and finest competitions - the battle for the cricketing Ashes. Australia were the leading team in Test Match cricket and had been for more than a decade. England, by contrast, were only just in the process of bouncing back after years in the doldrums.
Few expected what was about to happen next: England competed against the Australians, producing one of the greatest Test series in living memory. By the end of the series, England had regained the Ashes.
Suddenly many of the top England cricketers were household names, known to even those with no interest in the game. Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan were among those awarded honours by no less a figure than the Queen herself.
Everything looked rosy in the English cricketing garden.
Two years on, many are beginning to ask what has subsequently gone wrong. A number of key figures from the Ashes success has been struck by injuries, while the beginning of 2007 saw the Australians win the return series by a mammoth 5-0 margin.
As things went from bad to worse, the England team failed at the cricket World Cup and saw their coach sacked. It's been noticeable that the glow that followed the successes of two years ago has faded - kids aren't out on the parks playing cricket in the same numbers.
English cricket stands at a crossroads. Many are asking whether it will re-establish itself, or simply fade from the limelight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Barrett has written about cricket and cricket gloves for a number of publications. This article may be used by any website publisher, though this resource box must always be included in full.