The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have become the first cricket board in the world to actively throw their weight behind the anti-racism movement – ‘Black Lives Matter’.
In a strong statement made on Friday (June 12) night, the ECB said it was committed to delivering ‘meaningful and long-term change’ to the way that cricket is run in England and Wales adding that the sport was not immune to ‘systemic racism’.
The ECB acknowledged that “barriers to (cricket's) enjoyment exist for many communities”, and recognised the depth of feeling that has been expressed by the sport’s BAME community, not least the former England opener Michael Carberry, who stated this week that ‘black people are not important to the structure of English cricket’.
“We have listened carefully to those who have spoken out in recent weeks about their experiences of being black in cricket, sport and society,” the ECB statement read.
“We admire them for being vocal on this crucial topic. We know that systemic racism spans institutions and sectors across the country and we know that our sport is not immune,” the statement added.
Former England opener Michael Carberry had spoken out against racism recently. “If you ask Moeen (Ali) and Rash (Adil Rashid) about their issues in the game, understandably they are not going to come out and say, because they are in the set-up,” Carberry said on the Cricket Badger podcast last week.
“This is the decision most Black people and people of colour have to make all the time. This thing is eating you inside every single day with what you hear in dressing rooms, what you see, the stuff people get away with and say to you,” Carberry added.
ECB working on special methods to bring changes
On Thursday (June 11), England pace bowler James Anderson leant his voice to the cause as well, stating that the current levels of inclusion from players of Afro-Caribbean heritage in English cricket are ‘just not okay’.
Anderson was commenting in response to a tweet from one journalist, who had established that there was a solitary UK-born, state-school-educated black cricketer playing regular first-team county cricket in 2019.
“We truly believe that cricket is a game for everyone but understand that sadly, barriers to its enjoyment exist for many communities,” the ECB statement continued.
“We have made progress in bringing cricket to more and more people around the country and it is our resolve to break down barriers and reform our structures everywhere across the game. In recent weeks we have reflected, and acknowledge that black players and fans, who have contributed so much to the history of our game, now feel disenfranchised. They do not feel as if cricket is a game for them. This must change,” the statement read.
The ECB has made moves in recent years to improve the sport's mainstream diversity, with the launch in 2018 of the South Asian Action Plan, in a bid to reach out to communities that contribute at least 30 per cent of the active cricketers in the UK.
"That is why it's so important that we continue to listen to the voices of those who have spoken out, to educate ourselves and face uncomfortable truths in order to create action internally and throughout the game, to ensure long-term change," the statement read.
''We will now work to engage community leaders and black influencers within cricket so that we can review and evolve our existing inclusion and diversity work and specifically address the issues raised by the black community,” the ECB said through the statement.
''From there, it is our overall desire to create demonstrable action, in order to deliver meaningful and long-term change that permeates every layer of the game,” ECB added.Published 13 Jun 2020, 11:47 IST