ECB ad­mits past er­rors as it launches ini­tia­tives to in­crease di­ver­sity

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket - By Tim Wig­more

A raft of new ini­tia­tives has been an­nounced to in­crease di­ver­sity in the sport as the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board ad­mit­ted it was “tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fact that we haven’t got this right in the past”.

The ECB an­nounced the cre­ation of a new game-wide anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion char­ter and code, its am­bi­tions to make lead­er­ship and gover­nance more di­verse, and the cre­ation of a coach­ing bur­sary for black coaches. It will also con­tinue to work with coun­ties to rec­om­mend the adop­tion of the Rooney Rule – to en­sure teams in­ter­view eth­nic-mi­nor­ity can­di­dates – for all coach­ing roles.

Tom Har­ri­son, the ECB chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We have heard some un­com­fort­able sto­ries, specif­i­cally about the ex­pe­ri­ences of black com­mu­ni­ties in cricket. It’s clear we’ve got a huge amount of work to do and that we haven’t got things right in terms of black com­mu­ni­ties feel­ing part of our game.

“And if we’re not at­tract­ing peo­ple from the African-Caribbean com­mu­nity into the game, then we’re miss­ing out on a huge amount and it’s some­thing the game should re­flect very deeply on.”

As The Daily Tele­graph re­ported last month, Mark Al­leyne is the only black Bri­tish head coach of a county this cen­tury. De­spite win­ning two tro­phies in four sea­sons with Glouces­ter­shire, he has not sub­se­quently had an in­ter­view for a county head coach role.

Al­leyne is among the black crick­eters to have had dis­cus­sions with Har­ri­son. “I be­lieve the ECB are se­ri­ous and will help em­power change for good,” he said. “What we are look­ing for long-term is a po­si­tion where how we be­have and in­te­grate is our de­fault set­ting and not an im­pulse re­ac­tion to some pres­sures.”

Har­ri­son said that, for the black com­mu­nity, “as a coach maybe life is more dif­fi­cult than even as a player, be­cause those op­por­tu­ni­ties are fewer and fur­ther be­tween”.

The lack of trans­parency in many coach­ing jobs – which are fre­quently not ad­ver­tised, favour­ing those al­ready in the sys­tem – is an­other is­sue, Har­ri­son ad­mit­ted. “We have to make sure that the pro­cesses are trans­par­ent,” he said.

The ECB will work with first­class coun­ties to sup­port them reach­ing their own rep­re­sen­ta­tion tar­gets, to have at least 30 per cent women and a Black, Asian and mi­nor­ity eth­nic tar­get guided by their lo­cal pop­u­la­tion. The gov­ern­ing body is also work­ing with lead­ing fig­ures in the African-Caribbean com­mu­nity to be­come more di­verse. There are only nine black Bri­tish crick­eters in the men’s first­class game, down from 33 in 1994.

“We will work with any or­gan­i­sa­tion that wants to work con­struc­tively with us,” Har­ri­son said.

But the ECB did not com­mis­sion an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into the lack of black rep­re­sen­ta­tion, which Lons­dale Skin­ner, the chair­man of the African Caribbean Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion, re­cently urged it to.

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