I am writing to you to formally acknowledge receipt of the ICEC’s report into racism, sexism and class-based discrimination in cricket, on behalf of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
While this report makes for deeply uncomfortable reading for all of those who love the game of cricket, we wish to thank you and your fellow Commissioners for the rigour of your report, and for holding up an unfiltered mirror to all cricket in England and Wales. We were clear when the ICEC was established two years ago by the ECB, that we wanted independent and expert analysis of the issues of inequity affecting our game, in order to move beyond these issues, collectively and definitively.
The findings of your report, based on over 4,000 contributions from those involved in cricket at all levels, speak for themselves. Cricket should never exclude anyone on the basis of their ethnicity, gender or social background. We apologise unreservedly for these experiences, and are thankful for the courage of those who have shared them with the ICEC, whilst recognising there will be many more who felt unable to give their accounts.
Your report spells out the stark need to address discrimination across cricket, recognising the pain and exclusion this has caused. I am determined that this wake-up call for cricket in England and Wales must not be wasted. It is our job to demonstrate that it is a game for all and we have a duty to put this right for current and future generations.
We will use this moment to reset cricket. This cannot and will not be a quick fix – we must take the time to put in place meaningful structural reforms. As your report rightly points out, cricket has been here before. This time our response will be different. Our response must be wide-ranging and long-term.
Your report recognises some of the work that has happened to lay the foundations of change. I welcome your assessment that green shoots are emerging and that there have been significant improvements in the ECB and sections of the wider game’s approach in recent years. Let me assure you that this only serves to strengthen my determination to accelerate and intensify this work. We now need to reflect on the Commission’s recommendations. It is clear we need to go further, and faster in our efforts. Those changes must make sure the game is more equitable, diverse and inclusive. As recommended by the ICEC, our first step will be to use the next three months to work with the whole game to build a plan of action. This will take the form of a consultation, which will listen to and engage with the communities whose stories this report has highlighted. Across a series of workshops, the ECB will seek feedback from the game, before scoping and refining responses to the ICEC’s recommendations.
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 of the game and its funding model.
This consultation process will be led by Clare Connor, Deputy CEO, with the support of a sub-group of the Board including Baroness Zahida Manzoor, Pete Ackerley, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Sir Ron Kalifa, Richard Gould and myself.
When at its best, cricket has the potential to be a force for good, to bring together generations and communities and change lives for the better. We see this in the positive impacts and major contributions of the many good people and groups who work hard to bring cricket to more people in their communities. I note that your report recognises the fact that many people are already deeply committed to improving equity in cricket, and I thank you for that. Their valuable work must continue, with our support, and they will play a fundamental role in delivering the changes which cricket will make. Only by being as inclusive as possible will we continue to grow the interest and participation in the sport we love.
Our absolute commitment is for cricket to strive to be the most inclusive sport in England and Wales.
Cindy, I want to close by thanking you and your fellow Commissioners, Sir Brendan Barber, Zafar Ansari, Michelle Moore and Michael Collins, and your secretariat, for your hard work, commitment and focus in bringing these issues to our attention. I look forward to updating you on the action plan we will build and commit to transparency about our progress in the months and years ahead.
In the spirit of full openness, we will be publishing this letter alongside our public response when your report is published on Tuesday.
England and Wales Cricket Board