Ben Stokes, England’s cricket captain, has expressed profound regret upon hearing of discriminatory incidents detailed in a report on cricket in England and Wales.
The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) has identified racism, sexism, classism, and elitism as prevalent issues within the cricket sphere of both countries.
In a statement issued prior to the start of the second men’s Ashes Test at Lord’s on Wednesday, Stokes advocated for greater inclusivity and diversity in cricket.
He stated, “It is evident that our sport has much work to do and as players, we are eager to contribute to making cricket genuinely inclusive for all.”
The report, published on Tuesday, conducted an in-depth examination of both recreational and professional cricket, collecting evidence from over 4,000 respondents.
Among other concerns, it noted ongoing “structural and institutional racism” within the sport. Women are often perceived as inferior to men at every level, and “elitism and class-based discrimination” are common.
“We must reflect on past failures and strive to create an environment where everyone feels safe and able to be themselves at every stage,” Stokes said. “Discrimination should not taint the enjoyment of the game.”
Evidence was also provided to the commission by Stokes, England women’s captain Heather Knight, and former men’s captain Joe Root.
Chair of the report, Cindy Butts, indicated that issues were encountered at all levels of cricket, including the England dressing room.
Stokes further added in his statement, “To those who have been made to feel unwelcome in the game, I am profoundly sorry. We must celebrate diversity as it enriches our sport. This game that millions and I cherish should be enjoyed without fear of discrimination or judgement.”
The report pinpointed the influence of private schools in cricket development and the scarcity of cricket in state schools as contributing factors to “elitism and class-based discrimination”. A significant proportion of the men’s team (58%) were privately educated in 2021, compared to 7% of the wider population.
Stokes, who hails from New Zealand, shared his personal journey, emphasizing the need for more inclusive pathways. He noted his state school education, his decision to leave school at 16 with just one GCSE in PE, and his current role as the captain of England’s men’s Test team.
Sexism within the sport was particularly criticized in the report, revealing a “culture of sexism and misogyny”. The report lamented the absence of a women’s Test at Lord’s, the ‘home’ of cricket.
ECB chair Richard Thompson labeled the absence of a women’s Test at the venue “unacceptable”, and confirmed that such a match would occur in 2026.
Tests are rare in the women’s game, with none scheduled before 2027.
Lord’s previously hosted a women’s one-day international against India, the first time England had played at the venue since the World Cup Final in 2017.
“Diversity is a strength,” was Australia’s response to its own discrimination inquiries in recent years. Despite not reading the ICEC report, Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, acknowledged improvements over his 12-year career but admitted ongoing challenges. He expressed pride in his team’s diversity and hoped everyone involved with Australian cricket felt “welcome, appreciated and respected.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cricket discrimination
What has England’s cricket captain, Ben Stokes, said about the recent Equity in Cricket report?
Ben Stokes expressed profound regret upon learning about the incidents of discrimination outlined in the report. He believes that the sport has much work to do and emphasized the importance of inclusivity and diversity.
Who conducted the report on discrimination in cricket?
The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) conducted the report. It examined both professional and recreational cricket, gathering evidence from over 4,000 respondents.
What are the main forms of discrimination found in the report?
The report identified racism, sexism, classism, and elitism as prevalent issues in cricket in England and Wales. It also highlighted structural and institutional racism within the sport and the subordinate treatment of women at all levels.
What is being done to address the lack of women’s Tests at Lord’s?
The ECB chair, Richard Thompson, has stated that the absence of a women’s Test at Lord’s is “unacceptable”. He confirmed that a women’s Test would take place there in 2026.
How has the Australian cricket team responded to discrimination concerns?
Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, acknowledged improvements over his 12-year career and admitted to ongoing challenges. He expressed pride in his team’s diversity and aimed to make everyone involved with Australian cricket feel “welcome, appreciated, and respected”.