At the ECB we are proud to have produced top quality match officials, many of whom have officiated at the very highest level, and of the high standard of officiating that we see generally across the game. This has been the result of a lot of hard work, planning and investment.
But we also recognise that today’s group of professional match officials does not reflect the level of diversity and inclusivity that we are striving for as a game.
If we are to have the strongest possible game, and also demonstrate that cricket is for everyone, our group of match officials needs to represent and reflect everyone who plays and supports our game. That means bringing with them different experiences and backgrounds, while sharing a dedication to be the very best.
We are aware that by having just one Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) First Class official, as we currently do, we’re potentially missing out on a wide range of talent, and we can’t afford to do that.
That’s why we are carrying out a thorough evaluation of our approach to the way that we attract, appoint, develop, performance manage and evaluate our match officials. We want to increase the diversity of our officiating, inspire the next generation of umpires and match referees, have a world class officiating programme and ensure a culture of inclusivity and fairness throughout the system.
As a first step, we are introducing three immediate measures:
- With immediate effect, there will be BAME representation on all umpire and match referee selection panels.
- We will appoint someone from a BAME background who either is or has operated at the professional level of umpiring, and who will act as an advocate to actively encourage other people from a BAME background to get involved in umpiring, especially at the recreational level so that we can grow the talent pool.
- We will also commit that by the end of 2021, 15% of the umpires on the national panel will be from a BAME background.
We will announce further actions this year as our reform programme identifies further changes to our systems, processes and culture.
There is no place for discrimination in our sport, whether that is perceived or real, and we have taken significant steps in recent years to make cricket a more inclusive and diverse game, but we acknowledge that there is more to do.
That is why in addition to this important work across our officiating system, we also recently announced three significant steps which will have an impact across cricket as a whole.
- This year we will launch an independent Commission for Equality in Cricket to assist the ECB Board in assessing the evidence of inequalities and discrimination of all forms within cricket, and the actions needed to tackle these issues.
- We are also creating a Forum for Race in Cricket to provide a confidential, safe space through which the ECB can listen to, and learn from, the lived experiences of people from across the game.
- In time for the 2021 season, we will introduce a new Equality Code of Conduct to be adopted and enforced by all cricket organisations operating under the ECB’s jurisdiction, enabling discriminatory behaviour to be sanctioned through disciplinary processes.
These will all form part of a broader Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan to be launched this year. Cricket must be a game for everyone, and we are committed to making sure that it is.