The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is today publishing the second update on the implementation of cricket’s action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game.
This update outlines the key actions that have been completed since the ECB set out the anticipated timetable for full delivery of the plan in January 2022. In line with this timetable, further updates will be provided over the course of the year to cover each of the game-wide measures that were announced as part of the action plan. The next update will take place before the end of June.
Action to aid progress into professional teams of people from diverse backgrounds
As part of the action plan, cricket is taking action to address barriers to progression into professional teams of players from diverse backgrounds. Work is continuing to develop individual plans tailored to the specific circumstances and challenges of each County. This will be informed by research undertaken by Tom Brown at Birmingham City University (with the support of the ECB, Warwickshire CCC and Essex CCC) into representation within the talent pathway.
While the longer-term plans are in development, we are taking a series of immediate actions where we know we can have a positive impact.
i) Expansion of the ACE programme
The ECB will fund the continued expansion of the ACE programme, the independent charity designed to engage a new generation of players from Black communities within the recreational game and talent pathway. Following its successful expansion in Birmingham and Bristol during 2021, ACE will establish programmes in four more locations (Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds and additional London boroughs) so that it can provide opportunities to more children from Black communities to play cricket.
The ECB will also fund a National Operations Manager role at ACE to support the delivery of the expansion plans. Since its launch in south London in 2020 (originally as part of Surrey County Cricket Club), ACE has already created cricketing opportunities for more than 6,000 young people through its community hubs, academy, elite programme, trials and schools’ sessions.
ii) Talent identification and scouting
To help build stronger connections with diverse local communities, we are expanding the Community Talent Champions programme following its successful introduction in Lancashire, Leicestershire and Yorkshire during 2021. The programme will be extended to a further 10 urban locations, which will be selected following consultation with Counties. The roles will help to identify talented girls and boys in non-affiliated cricket environments and connect them to the existing talent pathways at age-group level. Alongside the expanded programme, the ECB will increase investment in scouting with the development of digital tools that reduce potential bias by providing access to objective data on a player throughout their cricket journey.
iii) Education and diversity of coaches
In an extension of the work introduced last year, the ECB will make available a further 3,000 Foundation coaching bursaries during 2022 to help more people from underrepresented groups to take their first steps into coaching cricket. The bursaries will be targeted towards people from ethnically diverse communities, women and people with disabilities, offering the opportunity to gain the entry-level qualification required to lead coaching sessions. To support coaches from underrepresented groups who want to keep developing their skills, at least 15 bursaries will be available at Advanced and Specialist level and 100 Coach Development Scholarships will provide funding, mentorship and work opportunities.
iv) Access to County Age Group pathways
The ECB’s aim is that financial costs should not be a barrier preventing any young person from being able to progress through the talent pathway. Therefore, we are committing an initial amount of £1 million to reduce financial barriers for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access the talent pathway, particularly at County Age Group level. We will work closely with Counties over the coming months to identify, in readiness for the start of the next cycle in winter 2022-23, where this funding will have the greatest impact, which could include the provision of equipment, support with travel costs, or access to facilities. This work will be supported by Loughborough University as part of a new partnership to gather comprehensive data on the demographics of cricket’s talent pathways to better understand the specific barriers that prevent people in underrepresented groups from making progress into professional teams.
Dressing room culture in men’s and women’s professional teams
The ECB has appointed EY Lane4 to conduct a review of dressing room cultures across professional cricket in England and Wales. We have chosen to work with an organisation that brings a wealth of experience from both sport and the corporate world. EY Lane4 specialise in developing high performance cultures, teams and leaders with extensive expertise in diversity, equity and inclusiveness.
The review will build understanding of what is working well in professional cricket environments as well as identifying how cricket can achieve healthy and high-performing cultures. EY Lane4, which was originally founded by Olympic gold medallist Adrian Moorhouse prior to becoming part of EY last year, has started the review with a series of design workshops involving representatives from across the professional game. The review will run across the 2022 season and will assess the culture of men’s and women’s domestic environments, as well as England men red ball, England men white ball and England women. Findings and recommendations will be reported in September.
New game-wide system for reporting discrimination
In late 2021, the ECB established a new mechanism (available through the ECB website here) allowing anyone to report an incident of discrimination that they have experienced in cricket, anonymously if preferred. This supplemented the existing reporting system for the professional game, operated by Crimestoppers, that has been in place since late 2020.
The new game-wide system is operated by the ECB with support from independent experts Red Snapper, who provide advice and support to the ECB and the Counties in managing the reporting process and investigating and responding to complaints. As stated in the game-wide action plan, it has been the ECB’s intention to appoint an independent third-party operator to take over the end-to-end system and develop it further as best practice evolves. After our preferred supplier decided not to proceed with the appointment, we are currently reviewing alternative options and expect this process to be completed by the ECB’s new Anti-Discrimination Unit, which once established, will assume responsibility within the ECB for the reporting process.
Ongoing EDI training for all those who work in cricket
Anti-discrimination training has now been made available across the ECB staff and the wider cricket network, and more than 1,600 people have completed this training since January 2022. This represents 65% of the total combined workforce. In addition, the executive team of the ECB has completed an inclusive leadership programme (previously piloted with three First-Class Counties and the MCC), which will be rolled out further across the game this year.
A bespoke version of the training programme is in development for cricket’s 40,000-strong volunteer base to ensure that it is adapted for the needs of this important audience prior to being rolled out during the 2022 season.
Best practice governance
As part of the game-wide commitment to best practice governance, county organisations are making progress to increase Board diversity ahead of the 30 April 2022 target for achieving 30% female representation and locally representative ethnicity. More than 30 county organisations will appoint at least one new Board Director between January and April 2022, and it is anticipated that the game will reach an average of more than 30% female representation and 15% ethnic diversity by the deadline, up from 20% and 10% respectively since November 2021.
A significant driver of this progress is the partnership with Sport England and executive search specialists Perrett Laver, who are providing advisory and search services to help county organisations to appoint diverse and highly skilled Directors. Following a pilot programme in late 2021, funded by Sport England, the ECB has extended the partnership so that at least 30 county organisations will receive support from Perrett Laver over the course of 2022. The partnership is having an immediate impact, with the first 15 appointees being 90% female and 20% ethnically diverse. Among the organisations to have benefited from the pilot scheme, Norfolk Cricket Board has become one of the first counties to exceed 40% gender balance on its Board.
Further details on progress will be provided as part of the next update.
Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC)
The ICEC launched its Call for Written Evidence on 10 March 2022, as the second stage of its listening process. The first stage was an online survey in November and December last year, which saw more than 4,000 people complete an online survey about their experiences in the game.
The Call for Written Evidence asks specific questions relating to equity in cricket grouped into five themes: talent pathway and progression into professional cricket; culture; good practice; complaints and discipline (discrimination-related); and governance and leadership. The Call for Written Evidence, which has also been promoted by the ECB on its website, social media and to the First Class Counties and County Cricket Boards, is open to all involved in cricket, and will remain open until 5pm on Wednesday 20 April 2022. The Commission is particularly keen to hear from cricketing and other sports organisations, equality organisations and campaigners, academics and other experts with direct experience of the game, and equality issues in other sports.
In addition to the Call for Written Evidence, the ICEC is receiving oral evidence directly from key stakeholders, conducting research into developments and trends in the game, and gathering information from cricketing organisations. All of the evidence gathered will inform a final, independent report, due for publication in Autumn this year.
The ICEC operates as an independent body. Its research and decision making is entirely independent of the ECB. For more information visit https://theicec.com/.