The England and Wales Cricket Board has been warned it will be held to account by the Government if it does not provide “clear and sustained evidence of cultural change across the sport”.
Earlier this month, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee issued a report calling on the ECB to “clean up its act” on racism or face a limit on the public funding it receives.
The harrowing testimony of former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq and others on the allegations of racist abuse they suffered resulted in the ECB implementing a 12-point plan to tackle discrimination.
ECB update on the implementation of cricket’s action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion in the game ⬇️
— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) January 25, 2022
There has also been major structural change at Yorkshire with Lord Kamlesh Patel installed as new chair and Ottis Gibson recently announced as head coach.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lord Addington, on behalf of Lord Mann, asked a question in the House of Lords about the ongoing issues within cricket.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, parliamentary under-secretary for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The Government is clear that racism has no place in cricket, just as it has no place in any sport or in our society at large.
“We welcome the steps taken so far by the England and Wales Cricket Board and the new chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket club, Lord Patel of Bradford.
“These steps are only the beginning. We now expect to see clear and sustained evidence of cultural change across the sport resulting from them.
“We will continue to hold the ECB to account directly on this and reserve the right to take further measures if necessary.”
On Tuesday, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison appeared in front of the DCMS committee to provide a progress update, which includes former England captain Clare Connor leading the promised review of dressing room culture.
A new anti-discrimination unit is set to be up and running by the end of May while a new partnership with Kick It Out had been established to identify and tackle issues around equity, diversity and inclusion in the sport.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club today announces the appointment of Ottis Gibson as Head Coach on a three-year contract. #OneRose
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) January 19, 2022
Lord Patel gave a briefing to interested peers ahead of Wednesday’s oral questions on the progress made towards tackling racism in English cricket.
Lord Parkinson added: “He (Lord Patel) made it very clear while his focus is on sorting out the problems in Yorkshire, he is drawing on the experiences of people from other sports.
“The lessons he is learning and the actions he is taking do have implications for other sports and indeed other parts of society.”
Middlesex chair Mike O’Farrell had issued an apology on Tuesday afternoon following his remarks given to the DCMS select committee.
Honestly these outdated views in the game are exactly why we are in this position. Unfortunately the decision makers hold onto these myths. ‘The Black community only like football, and asian community only interested in education’ Seriously the game deserves better. https://t.co/6Nzoad0kYq
— Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent MBE (@ejrainfordbrent) January 25, 2022
O’Farrell appeared to offer generalisations about the reasons why individuals from the Afro-Caribbean and South Asian communities drifted away from the sport, and suggested counties did not get enough credit for the work they do.
When asked to give a response, Lord Parkinson said he agreed with Ebony Rainford-Brent, a director at Surrey, who had labelled O’Farrell’s comments “painful” and “outdated”.
Lord Parkinson said: “I am glad to see he has apologised for them, but I shared the dismay of many in hearing them.
“It is good if people are focused on the barriers that might be holding people back from participating in society, but it is completely wrong to stereotype people on the basis of their race or ethnicity.”
Lord Parkinson added: “The Government is working with Sport England and other agencies to dismantle those barriers and make sure that everybody has the opportunity to participate in sport, whoever they are and wherever they come from.
“There is obviously work for the ECB to do, learning lessons that are being learnt at the moment in Yorkshire, but these go beyond matters of simply of race.”