The England & Wales Cricket Board has stepped up its measures to drive out discrimination and increase diversity across the sport, with the announcement of a new independent Commission for Equality in Cricket, a forum for addressing racial issues in confidence, and a new Equality Code of Conduct for all organisations that fall within its jurisdiction.
The measures, approved by the ECB board on Monday, will form part of a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan which will be rolled out over the coming months, and follow on from the work already undertaken in line with the ECB's Inspiring Generations strategic plan - the primary aim of which, according to Ian Watmore, the chairman, is "to make cricket a game for everyone".
"While continuing with this work and increasing its impact, we are equally clear that all discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable," Watmore added. "We are committed to drive it out of the game through better governance, education, training, role modelling and behavioural change, but also through disciplinary action when necessary."
Although the ECB has worked hard in recent months to address the issue of racism in cricket, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 has highlighted many areas in which the sport had long been lagging. Speaking in July at the launch of the board's broader Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, Tom Harrison, the CEO, acknowledged that English cricket had been forced to confront some "uncomfortable truths".
The ECB's announcement comes on the day that its two highest-profile active black cricketers, Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan, were unveiled as ambassadors for the ACE Programme, a charity set up by Surrey and chaired by Ebony Rainford-Brent which aims to address a 75 percent decline in cricket participation by members of the Black community.
Speaking in June, the former Test opener Michael Carberry claimed that "black people are not important to the ECB", after the extent of that decline had been highlighted.
More recently the sport has had to face up to claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire from their former player, Azeem Rafiq, while the former Test umpire, John Holder, recently hit out at the board for its failure to appoint any non-white umpires to the first-class list since 1992.
"This year we have listened to many people from across the game and beyond, to understand where we must be better in making our sport inclusive and diverse, and tackling discrimination," Harrison said.
"The measures we have announced today, and the broader Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan we will launch, build on and accelerate the work we have already done in recent years. We will continue to learn how, as a game, we become more representative of the communities we strive to serve."
According to the ECB, the new commission will be led by an independent chair with independent members. It will consider the evidence of the sport's historic failings, and provide recommendations for further action, based on information from people who have experienced discrimination in cricket, including that collected through the new Forum for Race in Cricket, the objective of which will be to provide a safe space for people to share their stories.
"Continuing to listen to the experiences of people, whether positive or negative, and engaging with independent expertise will help to inform, strengthen and challenge our thinking and plans as we move forward," Watmore added. "Taken together, these steps will ensure that the ECB achieves lasting change."