ECB responds to ICEC report on equity in cricket, which finds evidence of discrimination across the game

Today, the ICEC has published its report into the state of equity in cricket, which has found that structural and institutional racism, sexism and class-based discrimination continue to exist across the game.

The ICEC calls for decisive action to tackle discrimination, remove barriers and reform the game to make cricket more inclusive. The findings and recommendations were delivered to the ECB, which commissioned the report in November 2020 as part of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work to make cricket more representative and to address allegations of discrimination.

The ECB today apologises unreservedly for the experiences of those who have faced discrimination in cricket.

In response to the report, Richard Thompson, ECB Chair, said: “On behalf of the ECB and wider leadership of the game, I apologise unreservedly to anyone who has ever been excluded from cricket or made to feel like they don’t belong. Cricket should be a game for everyone, and we know that this has not always been the case. Powerful conclusions within the report also highlight that for too long women and Black people were neglected. We are truly sorry for this.

“This report makes clear that historic structures and systems have failed to prevent discrimination, and highlights the pain and exclusion this has caused. I am determined that this wake-up call for cricket in England and Wales should not be wasted. We will use this moment to demonstrate that it is a game for all and we have a duty to put this right for current and future generations.

“I would like to thank Cindy Butts, the Commissioners and her wider team at the ICEC for their hard work, commitment and focus in bringing these issues to our attention. I also want to acknowledge the courage of those who have shared their experiences with them, whilst recognising there will be many more who felt unable to give their accounts.

“As recommended by the ICEC, we will use the next three months to work with the whole game to build a plan of action which we will then publish. My absolute commitment is for cricket to strive to be the most inclusive sport in England and Wales.”

Richard Thompson’s open letter to Cindy Butts can be read in full here.

Response to Recommendations

Since the ICEC was established, considerable work has been under way across cricket to make the game more inclusive – including the ECB funding the expansion of the ACE Programme for young Black cricketers and increased provision of cricket in state schools where high numbers are on free school meals. There has also been a significant increase in female and ethnically diverse representation in governance across cricket. Today’s report acknowledges that progress has been made and that there have been significant improvements to the ECB and sections of the wider game’s approach since 2018. This work will continue, however the report makes clear that much more needs to be done.

As recommended by the ICEC, the ECB will use the next three months to consider the findings and 44 recommendations – many containing a number of sub-recommendations - of the final report in detail. Some reforms can be implemented swiftly. Others are achievable under the current framework of cricket but will require time and investment over the coming months and years. And some will require fundamental, longer-term changes to cricket in England and Wales, and its funding model.

The recommendations will be discussed with those involved in professional and recreational cricket. This consultation process will be led by Clare Connor, ECB Deputy Chief Executive Officer, with the support of a sub-group of the ECB Board including Baroness Zahida Manzoor, Pete Ackerley, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Sir Ron Kalifa, Richard Thompson and Richard Gould.

Richard Gould, ECB Chief Executive Officer, said: “The ECB has recently been working to lay the foundations of change, but today’s report makes it clear that the sport, including the ECB as governing body, needs to go further and faster in our efforts.

“Making cricket more inclusive and reflective of the communities it serves is my number one priority. This cannot and will not be a quick fix. We are committed to taking the time to work with everyone in the sport, and especially with leaders of cricket’s clubs and institutions, to put in place reforms that are wide-ranging, long-term and meaningful. We should view this as a once in a generation opportunity to restore trust in the game we love.

“It is welcome to see the report’s assessment that there are green shoots of progress, and of significant improvements in the approach towards these issues since 2018, but this must only serve to strengthen our determination to go further and address the issues which remain. I also share the commission’s thanks to the many people involved in cricket across England and Wales who are already deeply committed to improving equity in our game. They will be crucial to making sure that in the years ahead we really can say cricket is a game for everyone.”