Cricket faces discrimination ‘reckoning’, warns independent report chair | cricket

Cricket is “facing a reckoning” as a result of the Azeem Rafiq affair and needs to take a long look in the mirror when it comes to discrimination, the chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) has said.

After launching a call for written evidence for her independent report, which is due to be published this autumn, Cindy Butts said the ICEC had received a “staggering” response to an initial online survey, with more than 4,000 people coming forward to detail their experiences of discrimination on the basis of race, gender and class.

Butts stressed she was unable to talk in detail about those findings as the results were still being processed, but said: “What is clear is that all is not well in cricket. Cricket is facing a reckoning. It has to grasp this opportunity to understand and diagnose what the problem is. And then recommend – in an evidence-based way – what the solutions are to its problems. That is abundantly clear.

“Cricket needs to really look in the mirror. It has to say: ‘This is what we look like and we are prepared to tackle the issues that are prevalent within the sport in a concerted, serious and considered way.’ We hope that, through our report, we will be able to help the sport to move forward into a much more positive place.”

Cindy Butts, pictured in 2015 when she was the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

The aim of the commission is to identify the actions the England and Wales Cricket Board will need to take to tackle these issues. However, Butt said Rafiq’s bravery in coming forward had been influential in the first stage of the listening process.

“People were spurred on by Azeem Rafiq’s experiences, and issues in relation to race in particular, going on in cricket,” she said. “That gave people the courage to come forward and to speak about their own experiences. It was an indication of people being incredibly concerned about what’s going on – and wanting to contribute to make things better.”

The commission, whose formation was announced in November 2020, is now seeking written evidence from people across cricket to focus on issues such as the leadership of the sport, as well as its culture and talent pathways. Those wanting to contribute are being urged to do so by April 20.

“We’re looking at good practices, culture, complaints and obviously governance and leadership, not just in terms of the ECB but the counties too,” Butts said.

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