English cricket has made a range of commitments to tackle racism and discrimination in the sport.
A five-point, 12-part plan has been published following meetings between the main stakeholders, after the experiences reported by Azeem Rafiq and many others in recent weeks and months.
Maurice Chambers, Zoheb Sharif and Jahid Ahmed are also among those to suffer racist abuse or discrimination during their spells in county cricket, while at least 1,000 cases have already been reported to an independent hotline.
The ECB, MCC, the PCA, NCCA Ltd, the first-class counties, Women’s Regional Hosts and the Recreational County Cricket network have developed the response, produced following a joint summit at The Kia Oval last week.
Though all stakeholders have signed off on the plans, the discussions did provoke the resignation of Mehmooda Duka as chair of Leicestershire on Thursday (November 25).
The proposal is headlined by five key objectives:
- Understanding and educating more
- Addressing dressing room culture
- Removing barriers in talent pathways
- Creating welcome environments for all
- Publishing localised EDI action plans within six months
The game met at The Kia Oval last week to thrash out the plan
Across the commitments, there are a dozen specific actions that will be carried out, each of which were outlined by The Cricketer last week.
They include the setting up of a standardised format for reporting and investigating complaints, player and coach education, reviewing crowd behaviour and delivering improved diversity on boards by April 2022.
The measures in full:
1: Adoption within three months of a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game.
2: Full promotion of the aims of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) through proactive engagement with its investigations and recommendations.
3: Ongoing EDI training for all those who work in cricket, including all staff, volunteers, recreational club officials, umpires, directors, and coaches.
4: A full review of dressing room culture in all men's and women's professional teams, both domestic and international.
5: Delivery of a redesigned programme of player and coach education, addressing any gaps identified through the dressing room review.
6: Action to aid progress into professional teams of people from diverse backgrounds (especially South Asian, Black and less privileged youngsters) through measures to address i) talent identification and scouting, ii) education and diversity of coaches and iii) targeted support programmes for players from diverse or underprivileged backgrounds.
7: A full-scale review, in advance of the 2022 season, into the detection, enforcement, and sanctions against discriminatory and abusive crowd behaviour at each of our professional cricket grounds.
8: Delivery of plans (tailored to local communities) to ensure professional cricket venues are welcoming to all, including provision of accessible seating, food and beverage offering catering to all faiths and cultures, and the availability of facilities such as multi-faith rooms and alcohol-free zones.
9: Upgraded education in recreational cricket to ensure players, volunteers and coaches understand and champion inclusion and diversity in the game.
10: A commitment to best practice governance with targets for Board diversity (30% female, locally representative ethnicity by April 2022) and plans to increase diversity across the wider organisation. (Compliance will be subject to a “comply or explain” provision to ensure Counties can respect their own governance processes in making the required change).
The plans comes after the emotional testimony of Azeem Rafiq in front of the DCMS select committee
11: The introduction of fairer recruitment processes through measures including the immediate adoption of anonymised recruitment tools for senior roles, open appointment processes for all roles and the use of balanced and diverse panels to assess interviews.
12: Every senior executive employed across the game will have personal EDI objectives as part of their annual performance targets, driving leadership accountability.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "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.
“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."
"There is no doubt this is a critical moment for cricket," added interim ECB chair Barry O'Brien. "After our all-game meeting last week, we said we must rise to the challenge and respond with one voice.
"We have now set out a series of game-wide commitments so that cricket can start to make the transformation that we know is needed.
"Change is required as a matter of urgency, but we also recognise that sustained action is required over months and years to achieve fundamental and long-lasting progress. This must begin today."
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