The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced plans to establish an independent regulator and increase investment in the women’s game following a report that revealed widespread discrimination in cricket. The report, conducted by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC), uncovered evidence of racism, sexism, classism, and elitism within the sport.
In response to the report’s 44 recommendations, the ECB will create a new regulatory body that operates separately from the ECB itself. This regulatory body is expected to be established before the start of the 2024 season and will report to the Independent Cricket Regulatory Board. The aim is to ensure greater accountability and transparency in addressing discriminatory practices.
The ECB will also invest a minimum of £25 million per year in the women’s and girls’ game for the duration of the current broadcast cycle, which ends in 2028. This investment will be independent of any revenue generated by the women’s game, highlighting the ECB’s commitment to promoting gender equality and supporting the growth of the women’s game at all levels.
ECB Chair Richard Thompson acknowledged the impact of discrimination on individuals and the systemic challenges that need to be addressed. He stated that the report provided an opportunity to implement a comprehensive plan of action to bring about meaningful change and rebuild trust within the cricket community. Thompson believes that the actions outlined in the ECB’s response will accelerate progress towards making cricket a game that is inclusive for everyone.
The ECB has already taken steps towards equality by equalizing match fees for the England men’s and women’s teams, as recommended in the ICEC report. Moving forward, the ECB will develop a Women’s Professional Game Strategy for 2025-2029 to work towards sustainable domestic player pay parity. The board also commits to publishing a state of equity report every three years and adopting a more transparent and accountable approach to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Additional measures proposed by the ECB include overhauling the talent pathway to make it more inclusive, consistent, and transparent, as well as adding victimization as an offense in the Anti-Discrimination Code. These steps aim to address the root causes of discrimination in cricket and create a safer and more inclusive environment for all participants.
While the ECB’s response has been lauded by many, former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq, who exposed institutional racism at the club, expressed disappointment in the ECB’s efforts. Rafiq criticized the lack of detail and strong commitments in the response, particularly regarding the independence of the new regulator. He believes that the current measures may not effectively solve the underlying issues that led to the report’s findings.
In conclusion, the ECB’s response to the ICEC report marks a significant step towards combatting discrimination and fostering inclusivity in cricket. The establishment of an independent regulator, increased investment in the women’s game, and other proposed measures demonstrate the ECB’s commitment to creating a more equitable sport. However, the response has also faced criticism for its perceived shortcomings, highlighting the need for continued efforts to address systemic issues in cricket and ensure lasting change.