ECB admits past errors as it launches initiatives to increase diversity
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.