English cricket unveils anti-racism plans

ECB chief Tom Harrison says cricket has been hit by an earthquake after Azeem Rafiq's testimony.
ECB chief Tom Harrison says cricket has been hit by an earthquake after Azeem Rafiq's testimony.

England and Wales Cricket board chief executive Tom Harrison has not ruled out an independent regulator for cricket after admitting an "earthquake" had hit the sport in the last few weeks.

The ECB published a 12-point, game-wide action plan on Friday to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination in the game, following Azeem Rafiq's testimony to MPs earlier this month about the abuse he suffered at Yorkshire.

"The last few weeks have been very, very tough for cricket. It feels like an earthquake has hit us," Harrison said.

"The most damning part of Azeem's testimony is that he didn't want his son to be part of the game. That is, for someone in my job, the most difficult thing you can hear."

One of the points in the action plan is a governance review of the ECB.

In a week where a fan-led review recommended an independent regulator for English football, Harrison said it was appropriate that the review should at least consider whether that was the best way forward for cricket too.

"We had a meeting yesterday with the county chairs... whether we should be the regulator and the national governing body going forward," he said.

"That conversation is one we're going to have with the game as well."

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan promises a redesigned blueprint for player and coach education, as well as a mentoring programme for cricketers from diverse or underprivileged backgrounds.

Teams will also be required to diversify their leadership boards by April 2022, with a commitment to have 30% female and representative ethnicity.

"We have now set out a series of game-wide commitments so that cricket can start to make the transformation that we know is needed," ECB interim chair Barry O'Brien said.

"Change is required as a matter of urgency, but we also recognise that sustained action is required over months and years to achieve fundamental and long lasting progress. This must begin today."

Australian Associated Press