Aratrust Members and Supporters, along with many others, were left disappointed after Essex Cricket Club’s celebrations following their victory in the Bob Willis Trophy against Somerset, showed that diversity and respect still have a long way to go in sport. During the celebration beer was poured over their Muslim teammate, Feroze Khushi – unquestionably abominable!
Aratrust agrees with Sajid Patel (the co-founder of the National Cricket League in Essex and East London) that there is absolutely no excuse for such behaviour in this day and age, echoing his comments of “It was diabolical to see there was no sort of planning, no compromise and no cultural awareness. We want it to be a celebration for everyone, but when you see scenes like that, I don’t know what to say. It left me speechless”.
Sadly, Essex Cricket Club declined the opportunity to apologise but, encouragingly, released a statement that the celebrations “did not meet their inclusive values” and pledged to do more to “educate and develop” their players in the future.
Aratrust notes the Cricket Club’s show of support for Feroze Khushi and re-iteration of their commitment to improving and understanding diversity in the club stating that they “pride themselves on their work within multi-diverse communities throughout the county and the surrounding areas. For a substantial period of time, Essex have had a multi-diverse team with players from different backgrounds, religions, and races, where cricket is at the heart of these communities”.
Many people including aratrust find it encouraging that in addition to the general statement published by the Cricket Club, there was a social media post from Tom Westley, club captain, apologising: “On behalf of myself and the team, we would like to apologise for any offence that was caused during our celebrations at Lord’s on Sunday. As a group, we have come together today and discussed the event and on reflection, we are disappointed that we let this happen. Moving forward, the squad will be more responsible and aware of our actions and will continue to learn and develop with the help of the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and the PCA (Professional Cricketers’ Association)”
In the cricketing world, it could not be a more important time to have these discussions and challenge the lack of diversity, including social class, which plagues the sport.
Following the powerful and widespread Black Lives Matter movement across the world that has forced individuals, organisations, and decision-makers to tackle their own biases and fight racial inequality, the conversation in Cricket has largely remained silent.
Whilst aratrust commends the England and West Indian cricket teams for wearing the Black Lives Matter logo in their summer test series, we share Michael Holding’s disappointment that the English Cricket Board didn’t follow football’s lead in players continuing to take the knee after the England and West Indian series. Michael Holding, former West Indies fast bowler, stated ‘Now that the West Indies team has gone home, that doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t be respecting the message and exactly what it stands for’.
In an article in Cricket Monthly, many Black players have commented on their experience in English Cricket reinforcing the fact that there is a long way to go to make Cricket as inclusive and diverse as possible. Most strikingly, from those who talked about their experiences, was the staggering lack of representation in the sport and how English Cricket is not considered to be as accommodating as other sports in the UK.
Donovan Miller, a former fast bowler who was a significant member of England’s backroom coaching team that successfully led England to their first World Cup in 2019, highlighted the ‘frightening’ prospect of losing a whole generation of future cricketing stars based on the lack of representation and current cricketing culture: “My son is a really talented cricketer. But he prefers basketball and football. Why? Because there are people playing the game who look like him. Cricket doesn’t seem relevant or welcoming to him”.
Although an opportunity has been missed by the English Cricket Board to build awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement and keep the momentum going, aratrust welcomes the fact that they have recognised the need for change and have proposed several initiatives to ‘ensure that long-term and sustainable change happens for all communities who are not treated equally’.
A report from The Conversation highlights the need for diversity at a grassroots level where data from the 18 English ‘first-class’ county teams reveals that only 8.3% of male players, 9.4% of female players and 5.9% of coaches identified as being from a minority-ethnic background.
Aratrust welcomes the ECB’s long-term inclusion and diversity strategy that includes:
- launching a game-wide anti-discrimination charter and code to span players, coaches, fans, media, and clubs
- increased opportunities for minority-ethnic individuals across play, coaching and employment with a specific focus on young people
- recruiting a group of Black influencers and stakeholders from across cricket to share insights and support further development plans
Aratrust says: it is not enough just to be ‘not racist’, people have to be ‘anti-racist’ for racism to be rooted out of our society.
People often ask how they can be part of the anti-racist movement.
Aratrust’s answer is: they can start on this journey by becoming an Aratrust Supporter and helping us with their skills and/or pennies to eradicate racism in all its forms at all levels, both direct and systemic.
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