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Update ECB introduces new measures to drive out discrimination

'A new independent Commission for Equality in Cricket', 'A Forum for Race in Cricket' and 'A new Equality Code of Conduct' headlined the measures announced by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to drive out discrimination. The measures, which form part of a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan that will be introduced in the coming months, were approved by the ECB board on Tuesday (November 24).

The measures are a response to criticisms of the diversity and inclusiveness of the English game which have been made over the course of the past few months by a number of high-profile former players and officials. In June, former England opening batsman Michael Carberry said "cricket is rife with racism" while, in September, former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq claimed his experiences of racism at the county left him on the verge of suicide.

Ebony Rainford-Brent and Michael Holding spoke passionately and emotionally about the discrimination they have suffered in the game in the build-up to the first Test against West Indies in July and only last week two former umpires, John Holder and Ismail Dawood, accused the ECB of "institutional racism" over the lack of BAME match officials in county cricket. There has not been a new BAME umpire appointed to the ECB's full panel since 1992.

In July, the ECB's chief executive, Tom Harrison, admitted that the game needed to face some "uncomfortable truths" and pledged to implement a raft of new measures to address the underlying issues being raised. The announcements today are part of the new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan which the ECB say will "make the game more representative and drive out discrimination of any kind".

According to the ECB, the independent Commission will assist the board "in assessing the evidence of inequalities and discrimination of all forms within cricket, and the actions needed to tackle these issues." An independent chairman will lead the Commission which will also have independent members. The role of the Commission involves bringing in "a diversity of thought and experience to provide constructive input and challenge to the ECB and the wider game".

The Forum aims to provide a space that is confidential and safe, helping the ECB "listen to, and learn from" the experiences of people involved in game which can help the board assess the future action required. The new equality code will be adopted and enforced by all cricket organisations under ECB, in an attempt to weed out any discriminatory behaviour through disciplinary processes. The code is being finalised and will be implemented before the 2021 season.

The measures fall under the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan for 2021-24, which will be launched next year. The goal is to achieve equality and make 'cricket a game for everyone whatever their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, social background or whether they have a disability or not'. ECB's Senior Independent Director, Brenda Trenowden - a specialist in the field of inclusion and diversity - will lead this work. The Board, meanwhile, will regularly oversee the work being done and it'll be discussed in all Board meetings.

"The primary aim of the ECB's 'Inspiring Generations' strategy is to make cricket a game for everyone and many actions are well underway and helping to make cricket more diverse and inclusive. While continuing with this work and increasing its impact, we are equally clear that all discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable, and are committed to drive it out of the game through better governance, education, training, role modelling and behavioural change, but also through disciplinary action when necessary," said Ian Watmore, Chairman of the ECB.

"Continuing to listen to the experiences of people, whether positive or negative, and engaging with independent expertise will help to inform, strengthen and challenge our thinking and plans as we move forward. Taken together, these steps will ensure that the ECB achieves lasting change," he said.

Harrison, the ECB CEO, added: "This year we have listened to many people from across the game and beyond, to understand where we must be better in making our sport inclusive and diverse, and tackling discrimination. The measures we have announced today, and the broader Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan we will launch, build on and accelerate the work we have already done in recent years. We will continue to learn how, as a game, we become more representative of the communities we strive to serve."


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