ECB could face investigation into institutional racism allegations made by former Hampshire player

The England and Wales Cricket Board could face investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into allegations of institutional racism.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 8:30 am
Former Hampshire cricketer and Test umpire John Holder. Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

Lawyers acting on behalf of former umpires John Holder and Ismail Dawood have called on the EHRC to investigate the governing body.

Holder - who played for Hampshire between 1968-1972 - and Dawood are involved in an ongoing employment tribunal, seeking damages from the ECB and a ruling under the 2010 Equality Act over claims of systemic discrimination at the organisation.

An early day motion was also lodged in the House of Commons earlier this week, stating ‘serious concern at the under-representation of African, Caribbean and Asian coaches, umpires and match officials at all levels of cricket in England and Wales’ and calling for appropriate action.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Michael Carberry last year admitted he thought 'racism was rife in cricket' in England. Picture: Neil Marshall

Now the EHRC will be asked to consider the matter. A statement issued on behalf of several campaigners, including Holder and Patel’s solicitor Mohammed Patel and former human rights lawyer and judge Peter Herbert, read: ‘An international consortium of Pan African, Caribbean and Asian organisations have today called upon the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate racism into cricket in England and Wales.

‘The claimants are seeking permission to bring a complaint against the England and Wales Cricket Board on the grounds of institutional racism. The claimants submit that their complaint is in the public interest and that it would be just and equitable for the court to adjudicate on their complaint.’

The ECB this month named Cindy Butts as the chair of its Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, has introduced a new anti-discrimination code and has supported the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s education, diversity and inclusion programme.

An ECB spokesperson said: ‘We have established the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which is chaired by Cindy Butts, to examine all issues relating to race and equity in cricket. It will play an important role in helping us to listen and understand the reality of the inclusion challenges in the game, so that we can focus our efforts on ensuring that more people can say that cricket is a game for me.’

Holder was removed from the ECB’s Test panel in 1991 - after umpiring in 11 Tests - and was unable to secure a mentoring role despite 26 years experience in the first-class game.

Dawood, 44, contests that he was routinely denied promotion from the reserve list while less-qualified white candidates were fast-tracked.

The last non-white umpire to reach the first-class list was Vanburn Holder in 1992, but the ECB has committed to a more diverse national panel by the end of the year, as well as promising representation on all future selection panels.

Last summer, former Hampshire and England batsman Michael Carberry claimed cricket was ‘rife with racism.’

Speaking in the wake of George Floyd’s death in America, which sparked global Black Lives Matters protests, he maintained: ‘The issue you have in cricket is, the people running the game don't care about black people in it.

‘Black people are not important to the structure of English cricket.

‘If you look around English cricket at the moment, where the important decisions are made, name one black man in those positions?

‘You're talking the Andrew Strauss or Ashley Giles roles. Which black man has ever had the opportunity to make the big decisions on English cricket? Not one.’

England have never had a captain from a BAME background across all three formats of the sport, while Vikram Solanki is the only BAME coach among the 18 first class counties.

Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene is the only BAME coach among eight in this summer’s The Hundred tournament. He is coach at The Ageas Bowl-based Southern Brave.