Nick Hoult, The Telegraph, January 27, 2021
All male and female professional cricketers in England will attend anti-racism training courses this year after a survey revealed a third of respondents had experienced prejudice in cricket.
County squads and both the England men and women’s teams will attend the courses starting in March run by the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
The courses will cover dressing room culture, raise awareness of how behaviour can be interpreted by different cultures and encourage people to challenge anything they deem to be unacceptable after ‘banter’ was identified as a mask for racism.
Action has been taken after a survey of more than 600 professional male and female players (including those who had left the game over the past two years) found that almost a third of those who replied (44) had either experienced racism, witnessed racism or both. It included white players who said they had experienced racism as well.
The majority, 45 percent, said the racism had come from a fellow player, ten percent said it was from a coach, and around 30 percent had experienced racism on social media or from fans.
The report noted a “clear trend” that racism was disguised as “banter” with 62 percent of players agreeing with that suggestion, and 70 percent believed specific education on racism and diversity would help improve the situation.
Only 173 of professional players replied to the survey which the PCA believes shows the level of work they still have to undertake to ensure cricketers realise the importance of anti-racism education.
Encouragingly, 92 percent of respondents agreed their county offered an “environment where all cricketers could flourish”.
Of the respondents, 24 identified as black, Asian or from ethnic minority backgrounds (which is around 90 percent of the number of BAME players in the game).
In total, 12 from BAME backgrounds had experienced some form of racism. Of those who identified as white, 11 had direct experience of racism.
“It would have been far better if the vast majority of players had responded. Why they didn’t is very difficult to speculate,” said Charlie Mulraine, the PCA’s lead personal development manager. “Sometimes there is nervousness talking about these issues and some are uncomfortable to express how they feel.”
The England & Wales Cricket Board will introduce an anonymous phone line to report racism, issue guidance on how people can be held to account for breaches and a forum for sharing experiences of racism.
“We needed to start somewhere. This gives us a clear direction of travel and it is an ambition to increase engagement with our members on this issue,” said Rob Lynch, the PCA’s chief executive. “The option to do nothing was not there so the fact it has led us in this direction is a positive for the game.”
Training courses will also cover unconscious bias and how it operates for individuals and counties with several black players speaking publicly last year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests about how they believed racism had stunted their career. None of the 18 county chief executives are black or Asian and it emerged last year that the number of British black male cricketers with contracts at first-class counties declined from 33 in 1994 to nine in 2019. Only two of 118 managers or coaches employed by counties in 2019 were black.
“Both players and support staff need to understand the issues more deeply and feel secure the game is there to protect them,” said Rob Andrew, the chief executive of Sussex. “We need to make sure our dressing rooms around our counties and academies are safe places and people are confident any of these issues will be taken incredibly seriously and managed properly. We all have different dressing rooms, some more diverse than others, and it is about a game wide approach and making sure all of our players are protected and understand the issues.”
The PCA courses will be delivered by the EW Group, specialists in diversity and unconscious bias who have worked with Premier League football clubs and various big businesses.