London, Nov 27 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday unveiled a 12-point action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game in the country.
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan, jointly developed by the ECB, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), and counties among other organizations, looks to address ‘dressing room culture’ and ‘creating welcoming environments for all’ among other important matters.
The initiative comes in after Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to a parliamentary hearing, where he argued losing his career to institutional racism within the Yorkshire county. Following Rafiq, several others cricketers have made confessions of racial abuse at the club level.
“For cricket truly to ‘connect communities and improve lives’ — our stated aim at the ECB — we must start by accepting that not enough has happened to make our game better, both inside our own walls and across the wider game. That is the only possible reaction to the powerful testimony of Azeem Rafiq and others in recent weeks,” said Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer.
“I am delighted that this plan represents the whole game coming together to commit to tangible action and meaningful change. Our role as the ECB will now be to acknowledge the changes that need to be made internally, as well as offer support, resource, and funding to assist the game in making these changes. We look forward to working with our partners across the game to create a stronger, more inclusive sport and build back the trust of everyone who loves cricket,” he added.
The plan aims to adopt a more “standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game” and training for everyone involved with cricket, including all staff, volunteers, recreational club officials, umpires, directors, and coaches.
Furthermore, efforts will be in place to “aid progress” of South Asian, Black, and less privileged youngsters into professional teams. A full-scale review of all the efforts will also be done ahead of the 2022 season.
The ECB has committed to GBP 25 million of strategic funding over five years in support of their EDI actions and the formation of a new anti-discrimination unit – within six months — to ensure that the board has “the right resources and capabilities to help tackle discrimination in all its forms and provide guidance to the wider game.”
“This is a critical moment for cricket. At the all-game meeting last week, we agreed with one voice on the need to act decisively,” said Barry O’Brien, ECB Interim Chair.
“Whilst change is required urgently, we also recognise that sustained action and improvements will be required over months and years if we are to become the most welcoming and diverse sport in the country. We begin today and will hold ourselves to account at each step of the way,” he added.