ECB apologises for discrimination following equity report
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has apologised "unreservedly" to those who faced discrimination in the game after the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) released a report finding evidence of racism across the sport.
The report found the cricket boards had failed to prevent "structural and institutional racism, sexism and class-based discrimination", and the ECB acknowledged the need for change.
The ECB said it will work alongside representatives from the sport and build a plan of action in the next three months, which will align with the ICEC's 44 recommendations.
"On behalf of the ECB and wider leadership of the game, I apologise unreservedly to anyone who has ever been excluded from cricket or made to feel like they don't belong," ECB chair Richard Thompson said in a statement.
"Cricket should be a game for everyone, and we know that this has not always been the case. Powerful conclusions within the report also highlight that for too long women and Black people were neglected. We are truly sorry for this."
England captain Ben Stokes called on cricket to "learn from past mistakes" and "be more inclusive and diverse" in the wake of the damning report at a press conference ahead of the second Ashes Test against Australia at Lord's.
"To the people involved within the game who have been made to feel unwelcome, I am deeply sorry to hear of your experiences," Stokes said on Tuesday.
"Cricket needs to celebrate diversity on all fronts, as without diversity it would not be the game it is today.
"I am Ben Stokes, born in New Zealand, a state educated pupil who dropped out of school at 16 with one GCSE in PE.
"I needed help with the spelling and grammar in this speech and am currently sitting here as the England men's Test captain.
"It is clear there is so much more the game has to do and as players we really want to be a part of that to ensure this is truly a sport for everyone."
The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee also commented on the report, reasserting that there is a deep-seated problem of racism in cricket while recognising the need for the ECB to realign and seeking to ensure it delivers on its commitments.
"The volume of evidence, not only of racial discrimination, but also of sexism and elitism, is unacceptable in a sport that should be for all, and must now be a catalyst for change," CMS Committee Chair Caroline Dinenage said in a statement.
Thompson said the consultation process would be led by ECB Deputy CEO Clare Connor with the support of a sub-group of the Board including Zahida Manzoor, Pete Ackerley, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Ron Kalifa, Richard Gould and himself.