Raising The Game: a shared responsibility for everyone in cricket

Today the ECB has launched Raising the Game, an overarching platform focused on equity, diversity and inclusion within cricket. The ECB’s Chief Diversity and Communications Officer, Kate Miller, explains the background to the campaign and what it hopes to achieve.

The tremors sent across the world following the shocking murder of George Floyd in May 2020 led many organisations, institutions and individuals to reflect on their role in creating a more equal society – and address their own shortcomings in doing so. The cricketing world was no different, and we saw players, fans, coaches and volunteers from all backgrounds fully embrace the Black Lives Matter movement as it grew throughout 2020.  

Less than a year on we faced further scrutiny over cricket’s own relationship with racism, when former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq and others shared accounts of their experiences in the game.

In public, this was a watershed moment for the game. But the uncomfortable reality for many in cricket was a longstanding feeling that the game was not where it ought to be. Like many sports, sectors and industries, examples of discrimination and poor practice were going unchallenged and unnoticed – except by those who were suffering. Cricket was no exception.

On the one hand, this isn’t surprising. The game is deeply woven into the fabric of UK society, with a heritage and mythology that few sports can boast of. But cricket is and has always been so much more. It is constantly evolving, and embraces change like no other sport. And in the past few years alone we have seen a great deal of effort to broaden the game’s appeal, and make it relevant to new and more diverse audiences.

At the ECB we have been making strategic interventions to do better when it comes to inclusivity by introducing EDI education across the game, including volunteers and ground staff working throughout the summer. We have also made big strides in delivering on our 12-point action plan, with 80% of county organisations now meeting their Board diversity targets. We have delivered ground-breaking programmes to attract and welcome in more diverse communities, including the Dream Big Desi Women programme, and just today we have launched a new educational EDI Content Hub featuring video interviews with real people from the game sharing their lived experiences.

There is also a huge amount of inspirational and life-changing work going on across the game, and we all need to do more to ensure people hear that story. From Lancashire CCC’s gender-inclusive tour to Dubai, to the ACE Programme’s work to encourage young people of African and Caribbean heritage into cricket, and the opportunities for disabled children to play cricket offered through The Lord’s Taverners Super 1s programme, there is much that we can be proud of.

But we continue to need each and every one of you. That’s why we have worked with over 40 stakeholders across the network to create Raising the Game: a new national rallying cry based on a manifesto for change. The platform will give greater visibility to work across the game that is driving that change forwards with more space to amplify unheard voices and ensure that everyone feels a sense of belonging in cricket. It’s a vehicle for all of us to move forward with the same goal: that everyone who wants to play, watch, or work in cricket is welcome and included.

We want everyone in cricket to take both individual and shared ownership of Raising the Game. The ECB may have created it, but we do not own it. We want First Class Counties, County Cricket Boards, recreational clubs and delivery partners to use the platform to showcase their initiatives, inspire new projects, and reach out to underrepresented communities. And by doing so, we hope you can work with us to eradicate discrimination, make cricket more inclusive, create more equitable opportunities and deliver on our collective EDI ambitions.

In is an honour to work in sport. To bask in the energy and dedication from all parts of cricket. Whether you are an elite cricketer, a coach or a volunteer tending your local cricket club. Those of us fortunate to work in the game see daily evidence of how inclusive sport can act as a force for good and genuinely change lives. Sport has a deep history of holding a mirror up to society, and driving behaviour change. This time is no different. In cricket, it’s never been more urgently needed.

Raising the Game gives us the tools, and hopefully, further motivation, inspiration, and education to create lasting and meaningful change in the game we all love.

Visit our Raising The Game page to find out how you can share your story and help bring about meaningful change.