The Guardian view on English cricket: a game in need of urgent attention | Editorial

 Cricket will at last get its day in the sun at Lord’s on Sunday when England play New Zealand in the World Cup final The whole country will be able to watch, too, because Sky has reached an agreement with Channel 4 to show it on terrestrial television For the past month and a half the tournament has often felt more like a private party than a great national jamboree to celebrate a sport that used to be part of the national culture but these days feels increasingly marginalised  England have had a tricky passage to the final, at one point looking to be in danger of crashing out But in the past fortnight they have produced three scintillating performances, culminating in their defeat of old rivals Australia in the semi-final Australia weren’t just defeated; they were humiliated by an England team playing the sort of irresistible cricket that has characterised their approach to the 50-over game under Dublin-born captain Eoin Morgan  England, who have never won the trophy and will be playing in their first World Cup final since they lost to Pakistan in Melbourne in 1992, have peaked at exactly the right moment and will start as strong favourites against New Zealand But while victory would rightly be celebrated, it shouldn’t be allowed to disguise the problems that have beset this tournament and dog the global enterprise of cricket Ticketing arrangements have been chaotic; tickets have been too expensive; the fact that games have only been available live on Sky has meant the tournament failed to capture the public’s imagination, in sharp contrast to the women’s football World Cup which achieved record viewing figures  These things matter: sports exist in a Darwinian struggle with other leisure pursuits, and cricket has slipped down the pecking order in the past 20 years as the football juggernaut, cleverly mixing big money from subscription services with well-packaged highlights and a decent quota of free-to-air games, has rolled relentlessly on Formula One motor racing faces a similar dilemma, as it will discover on Sunday when the British Grand Prix has to compete with the cricket and the Wimbledon men’s singles final in one of the all-time great days of sport No wonder Lewis Hamilton is bemoaning his unusually understated billing this weekend  Sports do not have a divine right to public attention. They have to deserve it, and too often administrators damage the sports they are charged with developing An England victory will be a fillip for cricket in the UK, but the future health of the sport is far from guaranteed This is a watershed year, with the new hundred-ball tournament and city-based franchises due next year likely to bring profound change Add in the decline of recreational cricket in the UK, the small number of countries playing cricket to a high level (the main contrast with football), structural problems afflicting the game in key cricket-playing countries such as South Africa and Sri Lanka, and the dangerous financial dependence of the global game on India, and you have a sport, if not quite in crisis, certainly with serious questions to answer The odd memento mori might be appropriate among the hurrahs that will sound at Lord’s tomorrow

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