29 Nov 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

Cricket’s leading bodies have committed to a wide-ranging action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game. The plan has been developed jointly by the ECB, MCC, the PCA, NCCA Ltd, the First-Class Counties, Women’s Regional Hosts and the Recreational County Cricket network, as a game-wide response to discrimination within the game.

While taking tangible and immediate action through the plan published today, cricket will continue to listen and learn from anyone who has experienced discrimination in the sport. Further work is being undertaken to examine these issues through the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket and ongoing investigations into racism allegations and the handling of complaints made by Azeem Rafiq and others. Cricket’s leaders will also consult with independent third-party organisations with significant expertise in resolving similar issues. The game expects to take further action based on the findings and recommendations that come out of these processes.

The measures agreed include a series of immediate changes as well as the instigation of a review period that will incorporate the work of the ICEC and other inquiries into discrimination in cricket. The initial aims include addressing dressing room culture, removing barriers in talent pathways, and creating welcoming environments for all.

To underpin the actions being taken across the cricket network, the ECB has committed to providing additional resources and take several further steps in support of consistent progress across the game. These have been agreed with the game and will include:

  • A review of governance and regulation in cricket to identify any opportunities to strengthen the structures and processes across the game
  • £25 million of strategic funding over five years in support of EDI actions
  • The formation of a new anti-discrimination unit, within six months, to ensure that the ECB has the right resources and capabilities to help tackle discrimination in all its forms and provide guidance to the wider game
  • The inclusion, with immediate effect, of EDI minimum standards for all venues
  • A link between funding and EDI minimum standards, including withholding central distributions where necessary to ensure all stakeholders meet agreed standards
  • Collaboration with Sport England to help the whole game to achieve the increased diversity of Boards

Barry O’Brien, ECB Interim Chair, commented: ”There is no doubt this is a critical moment for cricket. After our all-game meeting last week, we said we must rise to the challenge and respond with one voice.

“We have now set out a series of game-wide commitments so that cricket can start to make the transformation that we know is needed. Change is required as a matter of urgency, but we also recognise that sustained action is required over months and years to achieve fundamental and long-lasting progress. This must begin today.”

Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer, added: “For cricket truly to ‘connect communities and improve lives’ – our stated aim at the ECB – we must start by accepting that not enough has happened to make our game better, both inside our own walls and across the wider game. That is the only possible reaction to the powerful testimony of Azeem Rafiq and others in recent weeks.

“I am delighted that this plan represents the whole game coming together to commit to tangible action and meaningful change. Our role as the ECB will now be to acknowledge the changes that need to be made internally, as well as offer support, resource, and funding to assist the game in making these changes. We look forward to working with our partners across the game to create a stronger, more inclusive sport and build back the trust of everyone who loves cricket.”

Mike O’Farrell, Chair of Middlesex Cricket, commented: ‘’This has been a time of deep reflection across the sport. It was critical that we came together and agreed a way forward.

‘’All those involved in leading the game are aware of how fragile cricket’s future is if we do not address the issues laid bare by Azeem and others. More importantly, we realise how many people we have impacted by not acting together. We are all determined to act as one and implement these actions but also to keep listening in the coming months and adapt to all that we continue to learn.”