The Female Coaching Network were invited to contribute to the newly published Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) into racism and sexism in Cricket in England.
Sharing the insights gathered from a variety of sports including track and field, football, American Football and Tennis, FCN Founder Vicky Huyton discussed with the ICEC how a lack of female coaches and leaders in sport impacts the health, wellbeing and overall success of female athletes.
The report, published on 27th June 2023, revealed that Cricket must urgently reform to address deep rooted and wide spread institutional, structural and interpersonal discrimination across the game, finds a landmark report today published by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC).
More than 4,000 people responded to the ICEC’s Call for Evidence which was supplemented
by primary research, literature reviews, written and oral evidence from hundreds of individuals,
counties, women’s regional teams and wider organisations linked to cricket.
With one in two respondents experiencing discrimination in the game, the report, Holding Up A
Mirror To Cricket, lays bare the extent of game-wide failings, to reveal:
● Racism is entrenched in cricket. The game’s structures lead to racial disparities and
discrimination, and the ICEC heard many examples of stereotyping, exclusion and racist
● Women are marginalised and routinely experience sexism and misogyny. The
women’s game is treated as subordinate to the men’s game, and women have little or no
power, voice or influence within cricket’s decision-making structures.
● There is little to no focus on addressing class barriers in cricket. Private schools
dominate the talent pathway, there is scarce provision of cricket in state schools and
there are substantial cost barriers faced by those from lower socio-economic
● The complaints system is confusing, overly defensive and not fit for purpose.
There is profound mistrust, victims and those accused of discrimination are not properly
supported and people are simply not reporting, for fear of victimisation and concern that
no action will be taken. All too often people are suffering in silence.
● The systems in place to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) require
significant improvement. There is game-wide confusion about how the regulatory
system works, with a lack of rigorous EDI standards. The ECB’s dual role of promoter
and regulator creates the potential for conflicts of interest.
Cindy Butts, Chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket says;
“We had unprecedented access to cricket which provided us with a unique opportunity to hold a
mirror up to the game. Our findings are unequivocal. Racism, class-based discrimination, elitism and sexism are widespread and deep rooted. The game must face up to the fact that it’s not banter or just a few bad apples. Discrimination is both overt and baked into the structures and processes within cricket. The stark reality is cricket is not a game for everyone. Whilst there has been commendable and significant progress in the women’s game, women
continue to be treated as second-class citizens with unequal access, pay and treatment. The England Women’s team are yet to play a Test Match at Lord’s, the home of cricket!
87% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi respondents, 82% of Indian respondents2 and 75% of Black respondents to our survey told us they have experienced discrimination, which is simply
“If you attend a state school, you’re less likely to have access to cricket and have the same
opportunity to progress in the game as your private school peers. For those who do ‘make it’ we were saddened to hear they were sometimes subjected to class-based discrimination. Cricket needs to urgently level the playing field.
“We did encounter encouraging examples of good practice and there are many who work
tirelessly across the game and who want to see positive change. From the outset, we as a
Commission shared a collective desire to see cricket emerge as the most equitable and
inclusive sport in the country. To achieve this ambition a report of this kind must necessarily
focus on the problems in order to identify the solutions. Our findings will make for difficult
reading, but change will not happen if denial and defensiveness persist.
“We want to congratulate the ECB for setting up a truly independent commission to examine
equity in cricket; many would not have been brave enough to do so. We have confidence in the
ECB’s new leadership and their ability to take our recommendations forward – the proof will be
demonstrable change. The game must now lean into the uncomfortable truths and commit to
reforming cricket’s culture, structures and processes. This is the only way to make cricket
genuinely a sport for all.”
Established by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to examine discrimination and
inequity where it exists and identify opportunities to tackle the problems, the Holding Up a
Mirror to Cricket report acknowledges there have been sizeable improvements in the ECB’s
approach to EDI, particularly since 2018.
The Inspiring Generations strategy, including the South Asian Action Plan (SAAP) and the Transforming Women’s and Girls’ Cricket Action Plan (TWGCP), deserve real credit, and have had a positive impact across the game.
The ICEC sets out 44 recommendations to transform the game’s culture and, in some cases, to
redesign the systems that govern and operate cricket. As an essential first step the ICEC
recommends the ECB makes an unqualified public apology for its own failings and those of the
game it governs.
The apology should acknowledge that racism, sexism, elitism and class-based discrimination
have existed and still exist, and recognise the impact on victims of discrimination.
It should include a direct apology for the ECB’s and the wider game’s historic failures in relation
to women’s and girls’ cricket and its failure to adequately support Black cricket in England and
Additional key recommendations include:
● There should be a fundamental overhaul of the professional women players’ pay
structure. The women’s game should have equal representation to the men’s game
throughout English and Welsh cricket’s governance structure, including membership of
the ECB and representation on its Board and committees.
● The ECB must develop an action plan to revive Black cricket, through financial support
and targeted programmes in local communities.
● The ECB must develop a game-wide strategy to remove class barriers.
● The entire talent pathway structure should be overhauled to make it more meritocratic,
inclusive, accountable and free of direct costs by 2025. Furthermore, counties must
proactively expand their search for talented players to include people who come through
● A new regulatory body, independent of the ECB, must be established to increase trust
and confidence in the regulatory process and address concerns around conflicts of
interest as the ECB is both a promoter and regulator of cricket.
● The ECB should reform the complaints process across the game to ensure everyone
has confidence in the system and that complaints are handled fairly.
The ICEC understands the ECB has committed to publishing a response to the report and its
recommendations within 3 months. The full report can be accessed here https://theicec.com/.