Richard Thompson, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, issued a public apology and called the report a wake-up call.
I offer my unreserved apologies to anyone who has ever been excluded from cricket or made to feel out of place, Thompson said. The report’s powerful conclusions also underscore that for too long women and black people have been neglected. We sincerely regret this.
English cricket was shocked in 2020 when former Yorkshire player Azim Rafique said he was the victim of racial harassment and bullying during two stints at the country’s most successful club from 2008-18.
During a tearful testimony at a parliamentary hearing in 2021, he spoke of the Islamophobia and bullying to which he was subjected.
Do I believe I lost my career because of racism? Yes, I do, Rafiq said at the hearing.
The ICEC was appointed in November 2020 as part of a wide-ranging effort by the ECB to address allegations of discrimination and improve equality, diversity and inclusiveness in cricket. The results of the study were originally scheduled to be presented last year.
The report contains a call for decisive action, 44 recommendations and a number of sub-recommendations. The ECB said that some reforms could be implemented quickly, but others would require fundamental, long-term changes in cricket in England and Wales and its moheritage and 75% of all black participants.
We unreservedly apologize for this experience and are grateful for the courage of those who were brave.
The ECB said it has already made significant improvements since 2018, but added that the report clearly shows there is much more to do.
Chief Executive Richard Gould added: Making cricket more inclusive and reflective of the communities it serves is my number one priority. It cannot and will not be a quick fix. We must see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore confidence in the game we love.