Thursday, April 18, 2024

ECB: ICEC progress update

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Photo Credit: ECB

ECB Chair Richard Thompson, Chief Executive Officer Richard Gould and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Clare Connor have been giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport committee today on the action being taken across cricket to address the issues raised in last year’s report by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC).

The ECB today published this summary of some of the progress made so far in delivering the action plan to make cricket a more inclusive sport. The ECB has committed to produce an update on progress annually, and this will be published later this year.

Visit the Raising the Game page to read more stories about the work which is under way across cricket to break down barriers and make the game more inclusive.

ICEC Progress Update – February 2024

This update sets out the ECB’s progress in relation to 12 programmes of activity which are addressing the issues raised by the ICEC Report in 2023 and driving long-term, tangible change at all levels of the sport.

The ICEC made 137 recommendations and sub-recommendations in the ICEC Report. The ECB has divided its response into 12 separate programmes of activity to address those recommendations. This approach brings together relevant knowledge, expertise and resource, whilst enabling collaboration and accountability across workstreams.

Now that the 12 programmes of activity have been set up, each programme will report its progress internally on a monthly basis, to align with CEO Richard Gould’s reporting to the ECB Board. Each is assessed in relation to costs, delivery of benefits, risks, schedule of work and resource. As committed in our response to the ICEC Report, the ECB will publish an annual update on progress.

The initial detailed analysis shows positive progress across each programme, with 11 of the 12 progressing as planned, with a clear path to delivery of the initial objectives. One of the 12 requires additional focus but is expected to be brought back on track. None of the programmes are facing any issues beyond the control of the project team which require escalation.

Notable progress

The last three months have seen significant progress in a number of areas. The Regulatory programme launched the Cricket Regulator at the end of 2023, under which the Anti-Discrimination Unit now sits. The Cricket Regulator is responsible for monitoring compliance with the game’s regulations, enforcement of adherence to those regulations and providing relevant information and education. It is overseen by an independent Regulatory Board and ring-fenced from the rest of the ECB. The launch of the Cricket Regulator seeks to give greater assurance around the separation between the regulatory processes within cricket and the remainder of the ECB.

The Anti-Discrimination Code has been updated to include an offence of victimisation ahead of the 2024 season.

This has been supported by the Tackling Discrimination programme appointing two new Regional EDI & ADA (Anti-Discrimination Advisors), with two further roles to come. It is anticipated that in the first half of this year, a new game-wide Case Management System will be delivered (solution currently being reviewed by Legal teams), to enhance national reporting, enabling analysis and reporting of trends.

Aligned to the Talent Pathway programme, the ECB announced investment in formal partnerships with the MCC Foundation and the South Asian Cricket Academy (SACA), alongside commencing work in three other workstreams focused on restructuring the pathway, improving player recruitment and removing financial barriers.

Closely linked to the pathway, the State Schools and Class Barriers programme has established a State School Task Force and developed a project plan for the State Schools Action Plan. In addition, the ECB has committed an additional £400,000 investment per year to Chance to Shine and Lord’s Taverners, to extend their work in state and SEND schools to an extra 350 schools and 27,000 students in this school year (beyond the 54,000 children in 700 schools who played cricket in the first year of delivery).

As part of the Equity for Women’s and Girls’ Cricket programme, in August 2023 the ECB equalised England Women’s match fees with England Men’s match fees with immediate effect. Women’s pay in The Hundred has again been increased for 2024, with men’s pay remaining static. Alongside this, the proposal to restructure women’s domestic cricket has been approved for re-launch in 2025. The invitation to tender has been issued by the ECB to all 18 FCCs and MCC for the purpose of selecting eight professional clubs to be awarded “Tier 1” women’s team status, as part of a new three Tier domestic structure. This will be supported by an additional £4m to 5m of investment from the ECB starting in 2025, to enable an increase in professional contracts to 120.

The ECB works in partnership with Sport England to invest in 11 County Cricket Boards (CCBs) to work in 13 Core Cities (ethnically diverse urban areas) across England. In 2024 this programme will support 300 locations and 50,000 people. Each Core City has developed a plan to expand their work with Black communities in 2024. Through the Ethnically Diverse Communities programme, the ECB has briefed County Cricket Boards (CCBs) on Black Communities engagement plans and are awaiting their responses detailing how they will identify and support clubs, volunteers and coaches in their county, alongside the delivery of national and community programmes. The ECB has recruited for roles starting in February – a Senior Manager for Diverse Communities, and a new Black Clubs Liaison Officer role.

EDI Funding Distribution

In December 2023, the ECB created a £2 million funding pot for the cricket network, to fund projects which will drive the game’s collective efforts to become the most inclusive team sport. First Class Counties (FCCs) and CCBs were asked to submit their funding requests for projects which would enhance an existing part of their current, or revised, EDI Plan.

Responses from FCCs show that this funding will deliver 90 EDI projects – averaging 5 projects per county, and CCBs will deliver 160 projects – averaging 4 projects per county. These projects will focus on supporting women and girls’ cricket, ethnically diverse communities, lower socio-economic groups and young people in state schools, disabled people and LGBTQ+ groups.

Key challenges

In a small number of cases, recruitment of new roles is required to accelerate the progress of the programme. Business cases for additional headcount have been submitted for the Talent Pathway, Volunteering and Regulatory programmes. In the Ethnically Diverse Communities and Tackling Discrimination programmes, new staff have recently joined the ECB and progress slowed until they came on board. As ever, the ECB has limited resources available and headcount is a challenge, when there are competing demands for additional resource across the organisation.

The Major Matches programme is progressing ahead of the season, with recent personnel changes meaning progress is slightly delayed. It is expected that this programme will be on track by the next reporting deadline. The updating of operating manuals to enhance EDI standards for major matches is in progress. Working with Prof Tom Fletcher from Leeds Beckett University, the ECB is supporting counties to deliver an inclusive in-ground experience at all international and major domestic matches. This includes ‘Inclusive Match Day’ toolkits for venues and First Class Counties (FCCs), as well as a series of workshops with operational leaders. The ECB is also starting to work on how EDI will feature within the 2026 Women’s World Cup venue allocation process.

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