Tom Harrison believes the England and Wales Cricket Board must lead the charge in creating a game that has inclusivity at its heart and not as an “impulsive response to something”.
A raft of measures aimed at increasing diversity in the sport were announced by the ECB on Tuesday, including the introduction of a coaching bursary for future black coaches and a game-wide anti-discrimination charter.
First-class counties are being recommended to adopt the ‘Rooney Rule’ – which has been used by the ECB since 2018 and requires at least one person from a minority background to be interviewed for each position advertised.
ECB chief executive Harrison admitted the organisation he works for has had to confront some “uncomfortable truths in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement” but denied this announcement is a knee-jerk response to that.
Indeed, Harrison pointed out that this aims to extend the ECB’s existing Inclusion and Diversity action plan and Inspiring Generations initiative that has already led to such schemes such as the South Asian Action Plan.
Speaking via conference call, Harrison said: “I don’t think this is just about the black community, this is about inclusion and diversity as a whole.
“This has been a time of huge reflection, not just our organisation but for me personally. I recognise that we are not where we should be as a sport and admittedly as a society too.
“What we’re trying to create at the ECB is an organisation and a game that is inclusive by design, it’s in our DNA, it’s not an impulsive response to something.
“This feels a little impulsive at the moment but the fact of the matter is we have been working on inclusion and diversity as part of a central theme of Inspiring Generations for years.
“This is a useful opportunity for us to remind ourselves how serious and important this work is.
“I genuinely don’t think there is anything more important for us because if we’re not relevant to the communities that we serve then we’re all we doing is serving a declining market. That’s something we need to take stock of.”
World Cup hero Ben Stokes also weighed in by saying: “Without the diversity that we have shown as a team, and the equality that needs to be given, we might not be World Cup champions.”