A groundbreaking report by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) has exposed the presence of racism, sexism, elitism, and class-based discrimination in English cricket at all levels. 
Drawing on evidence from over 4,000 players, coaches, administrators, and fans, the 317-page report calls for urgent reforms to address these systemic issues. 
“The evidence is unequivocal: racism is a serious issue in cricket. We are clear, as a Commission, that racism in cricket is not confined to ‘pockets’ or ‘a few bad apples’, nor is it limited to individual incidents of misconduct (i.e. interpersonal racism).
“In our opinion, the cumulative picture of evidence demonstrates that racism, in all its forms, continues to shape the experience of, and opportunities for, many in the game.
“We hope that our Report enables the ECB, and importantly the wider game, to move to a more realistic view of the extent and nature of racism in English and Welsh cricket.” 
Extent of discrimination
The report has found that racism is deeply ingrained in cricket, extending beyond isolated incidents.
It highlights that 87 per cent of respondents from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, 82 per cent of Indian respondents, and 75 per cent of Black respondents, have reported experiencing some form of discrimination. 
Elitism and exclusion
The sport is described as elitist and exclusionary, with private school networks and cliques dominating cricket, alienating many individuals.
Disturbing anecdotes include instances where state school children were derogatorily referred to as “peasants” while having their working-class accents mocked.
Lad culture and gender bias
A prevailing “drinking and puerile lads’ culture” in cricket has been found to expose women to unwarranted attention and acts as a barrier to the inclusion of Muslim communities. 
Inadequate complaints system
Also, the report criticises the confusing and overly defensive complaints system, which deters victims from reporting abuse, leading to a culture of silent suffering.
ECB’s failure and lack of representation
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is blamed for its delayed recognition of the extent of racism in cricket, which only came to light when former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq exposed the abuse he endured.
In the words of a British Pakistani former player quoted in the paper,
“All the stories that Azeem Rafiq talks about, that all happened to me.
“All the abuse, the isolation, the hatred. [Teammates] poured alcohol on me. They threw bacon sandwiches at me.
“I have lived with all that and never spoke to anyone about it.” 
The report has questioned exactly why the governing body failed to address the decline in Black players, as well as the significant under-representation of state school attendees in professional cricket.
As the ICEC chair and commissioners note,
“In cricket’s most senior leadership, South Asian representation is limited to 2.8 per cent, despite South Asians making up 26-29 per cent of the game’s adult recreational population and 6.9 per cent of the population of England and Wales.
“In addition, with the exception of a single Black woman on the ECB Board (who is shortly to depart), Black people are entirely absent from the game’s most senior leadership.” 
The investigation also highlights that private school-educated players are disproportionately represented in both of England’s national teams for men and women, compared to the general population.
Diversity of ethnic backgrounds has also decreased in men’s cricket over the past three decades, with particularly low representation in women’s cricket.
Recommendations for reform
The ICEC report presents 44 recommendations, ranging from modest to radical, to combat racism, sexism, and elitism.
These include regular “culture” checks to ensure lasting change.
In light of the damning findings, the report emphasises the need to avoid repeating the same problems in the future.
A couple of the recommendations include:
- the establishment of an independent regulator to address the conflict of interest within the ECB, which currently serves as both a promoter and regulator of the sport;
- replacing the Harrow v. Eton and Oxford v. Cambridge matches with a state school under-15s competition and a finals’ day for university teams to promote inclusivity. 
Some recommendations, such as providing increased opportunities for state school players and achieving equal pay at domestic and international levels, may pose economic challenges.
The report acknowledges the significant pay disparity between male and female players and suggests equal pay at the domestic level by 2029 and international level by 2030.
ECB response to ICEC report
In response to the publication of the ICEC report, ECB Chair Richard Thompson offered an unreserved apology to those affected by the discrimination and racism prevalent in the sport. 
“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.
“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.” 
Thompson and the ECB have agreed to the recommendations presented by the ICEC and confirmed their implementation in the coming three months, with some reforms being implemented rapidly while others may require more time and effort.
As the statement continues, the ECB has said,
“As recommended by the ICEC, the ECB will use the next three months to consider the findings and 44 recommendations — many containing a number of sub-recommendations—of the final report in detail.
“Some reforms can be implemented swiftly. Others are achievable under the current framework of cricket but will require time and investment over the coming months and years.” 
We hope that the ECB does indeed live up to its word and fully implement the desperately needed changes in order to move beyond the discrimination faced by so many.
It is simply unacceptable that almost every form of discrimination has been documented to be prevalent by this report.