Following the ECB’s ICEC report – Where are we 12 months on from Changing the Boundaries, and what’s next for Cricket in Scotland?

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December 22, 2021
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Following the ECB’s ICEC report – Where are we 12 months on from Changing the Boundaries, and what’s next for Cricket in Scotland?

Following publication of yesterday’s ICEC report into discrimination in cricket in England and Wales, Running Out Racism wrote to Cricket Scotland, Scottish Government and sportscotland.   The purpose of this email was to highlight where issues remain, and where progress needs to be accelerated.  All of the areas that involve Cricket Scotland are not resource intensive, and are more about intent, transparency and ownership.  

With regards to Cricket Scotland, there has undoubtedly been progress.  The investigations are now finally starting to progress, and all parties are actively committed to building in reconciliation to the process.   This is critical to us bringing people together following a difficult period for the sport.  

They are also re-establishing the EDI working group, with a more consultative approach.  This work cannot be rushed if trust is to be rebuilt.   We are also pleased to see the organisation looking at wider cricketing community engagement.  That aspect has been poor in the last twelve months.  In the haste to deliver a set of actions, they have missed at times the opportunity to build understanding of the issues, consensus on the solutions and trust with those left out for so long.  This new approach gives them a chance of rebuilding this.  

However, their communications continue to fail to deliver in this aspect.  Updates are all about progress to deliver actions, and they have not taken the time to explain why things are the way they are.  Or to show real ownership of the reasons for the issues.  This is a key part of building trust and understanding, and they must improve this.  

Yesterday’s commitment by the ECB to shine a light on all it’s failings have not been mirrored in Scotland.   In addition to being passive of the issues behind the institutional racism findings, we have heard nothing of the gender and misogyny issues referred to at the Plan4Sport conference that were coming at a later date.  They have (rightly) celebrated the awarding of women’s professional contracts, but this is repairing but one crack.   The issues raised through the review regarding the discrimination of women need to be acknowledged, otherwise they are doing a disservice to those who have spoken up various times.  

We also suggest given the limited resources the need to work closer with the ECB.  Cricket Scotland have benefited hugely from All Stars, and if a similar arrangement can be entered into for shared endeavour initiatives as a result of the two reports, this makes good financial sense.  We will be writing to the ECB directly to make this suggestion, and use our connections there to lobby for this collaboration to take place.  

Finally, to date the governing body have failed to protect or support the whistleblowers in any way.  They have also failed to answer with authority any concerns or doubts raised by the cricketing public.  They have left that to sportscotland, and if they are to build confidence that they both understand the issues, and have the will and intent to deliver on them, they must act as they would out of special measures in showing leadership.   For us, that is the most important test for coming out of special measures – not the delivery of actions, but the confidence in the intent of the leadership to own the report, and deliver on the cultural improvements the organisation requires.  

There are also asks for Scottish Government and sportscotland.  

We have on the whole been grateful to the scrutiny and oversight they’ve applied to ensure meaningful change happens.  However, in September 2022 we asked them to consider the learning from this for other sports and how the sporting system can build preventative safeguards.  These issues are not isolated to just cricket, as has been demonstrated in coverage in other sports recently.   It seems convenient for the focus to remain on cricket, and in doing so nothing has been done to look at the safeguards and learning by Scottish Government.   We are therefore going forward going to apply some pressure to them to start exploring this, with equal vigour to which it is providing scrutiny to cricket.  

All full copy of the letter to officials is available below …

DATED 27/06/2023.

Addressed to CEO Cricket Scotland, CEO sportscotland, Minister for Sport and opposition parties.

Dear CEOs of sportscotland, Cricket Scotland and the Minister for Sport

Today’s report into discrimination in cricket in England and Wales should be a watershed moment for the game, as it covers in great depth the deep rooted structural issues that exist.  We recognise in the context of Cricket Scotland some of the leadership team is new, and that you are inheriting previous legacies.  However a year on from our own Changing the Boundaries Report, many of the findings resonate in the way all three agencies continue to operate today and progress must now be made in a few key areas.  None of the below are resource draining, but they are critical to building confidence with those impacted by the issues raised by numerous parties.

We hope this report can act as a reminder of the responsibilities of Scottish Government, sportscotland and Cricket Scotland in addressing the issue of racism and discrimination in cricket, and in sport more broadly, in Scotland and redouble the efforts required to eradicate these deep rooted, structural issues.

More specifically, we are calling on each of you to respond to the following calls for action.  None of these are new, and we have asked at various points to each of you.  But progress in each of these has been slow, and in some cases non existent. 

As more and more evidence presents itself of the problems sport and cricket faces, these can no longer be ignored, and must be prioritised.

Cricket Scotland asks

  1. A greater ownership of the report findings from last year, including more proactive communications on the issue.

The ECB commissioned this report and have owned it in full this morning.  It’s difficult for them to read no doubt, but there is a strength of conviction to their statement that has been lacking in Cricket Scotland.   This is not surprising given the views of previous leaders at points, both during the view and post review, but it has meant that Cricket Scotland has been happy to passively allow others to do the hard work on communications – most notably sportscotland and at times Running Out Racism.

It must now break from its paralysis.  So far, the governing body has issued a single apology, and said it is committed to delivering the recommendations in full.   But that is it.  It has not proactively attempted to own the issue, to explain it to the sport or to demonstrate that it grasps it or understands the compelling need to do so.  Cricket Scotland’s passivity has made it at times look like a victim in this, which it is far from.  Cricket Scotland must now step up and take responsibility for its past mistakes, and proactively lead the narrative on what our sport needs to do.

In order to reinforce this, we would draw your attention to the attached section of the ECB’s report;

‘The persistence of interpersonal and structural racism in cricket is due, we believe, in part to a failure by the ECB to specifically and unambiguously name racism as a concern, at least until the recent crisis (and only then generally in reference to interpersonal and overt forms of racism). As such, racism remains a widespread and serious problem in cricket across England and Wales and something that the ECB and the wider game should address with urgency.’

The lack of proactivity from the governing body on this issue is perpetuating the problem in the same way.  Until it becomes confident in the ownership of the problem, and communicates with much greater clarity and authority on the journey to becoming anti-racist, it is complicit in enabling racism to continue and flourish in our game.

  • An immediate connection made to the ECB to seek assistance from a better resourced body.

This report should be seen as an opportunity.   The ECB is committing to a wide-reaching education programme.  It is going to look at discipline, it is going to look at pathways, at selection, at umpiring and coaching.  All of these areas were found to have issues in the report.   Given the ECB has significant more resources than Cricket Scotland, this is an opportunity to potentially deliver economies of scale solutions, in the same way Cricket Scotland benefited from the rollout of the All Stars programme. 

This could be a critical moment and juncture in the sport being able to accelerate the cultural changes required.

  • A greater proactive support for those who have been brave enough to be public, and continue to suffer abuse with no intervention or support from the governing body.

Those who have spoken out publicly continue to suffer abuse.  To date, Cricket Scotland has taken no steps to condemn this, or to provide any proactive support for the individuals on the receiving end of it.  In the case of Majid Haq, he is now trying to rebuild his career as an umpire, and has faced significant ongoing proactive and targeted abuse all season.  Evidence of this was provided to Cricket Scotland and CSMOA, but as yet they have not responded, or taken any action to publicly support the sustained abuse one of their umpires continues to receive.   This is not good enough.   Cricket Scotland and it’s supporting bodies must do better, accept responsibility for the damage caused to the whistleblowers and it’s morale obligation in providing greater support to them as they continue to suffer sustained campaigns of unwarranted abuse.

  • Cricket Scotland should publish Plan4Sport findings into other discrimination

At the press conference last July, Plan4Sport mentioned that sexism, misogyny and other issues were also found through their review, and that these would be communicated separately to Cricket Scotland.  A year on we have heard nothing.   The governing body has celebrated the launch of professional contracts for women, but seems reluctant to acknowledge any of the issues and discrimination other groups face.

Will the governing body commit to tackling these issues too, and publishing any recommendations found from this?

We have through our own disclosures found evidence of fat shaming, ridiculing and gaslighting of the women’s game by senior officials at Cricket Scotland, compounded by the punishment of female members of staff for raising concerns.   This evidence was already provided at an earlier point to Cricket Scotland, and was brushed under the carpet in a botched investigation, which led to a large pay off for a senior member of staff.   This was as recent as 2021, so these issues are not historic and still haven’t been addressed.

Cricket Scotland is doing its female members of staff, players and supporters a disservice by not doing so, and we encourage firm action to be taken, and transparency to be shown by disclosing any issues and actions relating to this.  They deserve acknowledging in this too.

Asks for sportscotland and Scottish Government

Following the report last year, we called for Scottish Government and sportscotland to put safeguards in the system, and look at greater powers to prevent future issues of discrimination in sport.  At a meeting in September, the then Cabinet Secretary and now First Minister said nothing was off the table.  12 months on, there has been no further progress or response.  It is clear that what sportscotland and Scottish Government meant was that nothing was on the table in the first place.

Today’s report into ECB discrimination highlights the following point;

Promoter vs Regulator conflict

7.5.26 We have heard a great deal of evidence about the ECB’s dual role as both the promoter and regulator of cricket. Very little of it has been positive. The overwhelming view from stakeholders and witnesses we spoke to, from across the game and beyond, is that there is considerable confusion caused by the mixing of priorities when combining the two roles. These concerns relate to a lack of clarity around which role the ECB is occupying at different times and, importantly, the risk of a conflict arising that has the potential to result in a reluctance to take the regulatory action required if such action conflicts with other commercial and/or financial considerations

Through parliamentary scrutiny and special measures, Scottish Government and sportscotland have continued to scrutinise this as a cricket issue. 

This is in spite of numerous reported issues in Scottish Rugby and Scottish Football, and clear evidence of mishandling of many of these issues.  It is clear that sport in its current form, with governing bodies responsible for both promotion and regulation, will often lead to issues being brushed under the carpet with reputation taking precedent over dealing with the issue in hand.

This issue is widespread throughout sport, and in continuing to take no further action to put safeguards in place, the Scottish Government and sportscotland are complicit in systemic racism in sport by continuing to support a system which is fundamentally flawed. 

The continued slow walking of the necessary change to ensure issues are handled appropriately means that Scottish Government is accepting that racism and discrimination in sport is an issue, but dealing with it is not a priority.   This lack of action does not back up its rhetoric to date.

We now call on Scottish Government to commit to a review of options for tackling this issue in the forthcoming Programme for Government.

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