Just out of interest who plays in the minor counties?
Schoolboys, students, teachers, cricket coaches, club pros, anyone with enough free time to play, 2nd XI players from the major counties. Minor counties cricket is a bit of an oddity as it doesn't really perform an elite performance role.
None of the England cricket team would have come from the Minor Counties system for example. What tends to happen is that the major counties suck up all the talent from the surrounding minor counties. Players from Cheshire will go to Lancs, Lincs to Notts or Yorks etc. It is an historical throwback and not much use to anyone apart from the pride of those that are involved.
The elite youth development system in English cricket is now very focused on the clubs and supplemented by the big cricket playing private schools. From the clubs and the schools the young players are then funnelled into county age group sides and they go on from there. Joe Root is a good example. Made a name for himself at Sheffield Collegiate, got in the Yorkshire age group sides, got a scholarship to Workshop College and went on from there. He has basically been a semi pro cricketer since the age of 16. Some schools even recruit cricketers as young as 13!