Cricket officials have been urged to learn from rugby's mistakes and start capitalising on Ashes fever.

Rugby enjoyed its day in the sun two years ago when England returned from Australia as world champions, propelling the sport onto the front and back pages and widening its public appeal.

A million fans took to the streets of London to give Sir Clive Woodward's squad a heroes welcome but Wasps chief executive David Davies, a keen cricket fan, feels much of that momentum was wasted because the Rugby Football Union spent "a year parading the trophy before planning what to do next".

Woodward quit as England head coach at the end of the World Cup season because the RFU and Premier Rugby were still arguing over the issue of player availability. They still are.

Davies has warned the England and Wales Cricket Board and the 18 first-class counties to learn from that example and pull together to make the most of this dramatic summer.

"Rugby didn't start planning early enough and cricket needs to learn from that," he said. "They need to do what we should have done and put a plan in place. It's a challenge for (chief executive) David Collier and the ECB."

Despite the national game being at its lowest ebb in six years, club rugby in England has never been stronger. Davies believes much of that is down to the hard work done by the clubs' marketing strategies on the back of England's success.

Over 84,000 fans watched the six matches on the opening weekend of the Guinness Premiership, with 35,000 at the Twickenham doubleheader and full houses at Leicester, Worcester and Bristol.

Davies therefore feels the counties have a crucial role to play and he is optimistic they can.

"We had the players and were able to use those to the max - Lawrence Dallaglio, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson - to market the sport," said Davies.

"Cricket has got Freddie Flintoff, Steve Harmison and the difference is that they are a young team, an exciting team that will be together for a few years.

"The rugby team was at the end of its cycle, whereas this cricket team can go on for a number of years but the counties must take those players and market them.

"You look at the Test at Old Trafford. Ten thousand people couldn't get in but the day after there were only 2,000 at the local derby between Lancashire and Yorkshire - and I bet hardly any of those paid on the door because they were members."