An Open Letter to the Welsh Cricket Family, following the Publication of the ICEC Report
from Leshia Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, Cricket Wales
7th July 2023
Dear Colleagues, Friends, Players, Parents, Committee Members, Officials, Coaches, Activators, Grounds Managers, Volunteers, Stakeholders and Supporters,
The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) was commissioned by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2021. It was established to examine the state of equity in cricket governed by, and played under the auspices of, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The Commission published their report on Tuesday 27th June 2023. It included 44 recommendations to drive equity, diversity and inclusion forward in our game.
The report is now with the ECB for their consideration. In addition to their unequivocal apology on behalf of the game to everyone who has been excluded or made to feel that they don’t belong in cricket, the ECB have now committed to providing a public response to the report and its recommendations within the next three months. They will shortly undertake a major consultation exercise with the game’s primary stakeholders, in order to formulate its response to the report and to start to plan the phasing of measures and actions that it agrees to undertake as a result of the report - some of which may require months, or years, to complete.
I have personally received a large volume of messages, emails and letters from colleagues and volunteers in Wales in the last 10 days, expressing both deep sadness, but also shock, at the findings of the report; many people stating that they did not recognise the findings as being present, let alone ‘widespread’, in their own clubs, leagues, or associations.
While I have been cautiously encouraged by this feedback in Wales, especially given Cricket Wales’ evidencable commitment to all matters of Equity Diversity & Inclusion for over 10 years, our position remains clear; Even if you yourself have not seen or felt discrimination, it does not necessarily mean that others have not.
ONE act, case or concern of discrimination in our sport in Wales, at any level, is one too many.
As part of Cricket Wales’ immediate response to the report, we have respectfully requested the basic data received by the Commission which is specific to Wales, so that we can understand not only the scale of responses from the recreational game in Wales, among the 4,156 individuals who submitted testimony and lived experiences, but also to identify if there were any specific trends to the Welsh submissions; As a Board and Executive, we want to be able to accurately and robustly prioritise and tailor our local response to the issues raised across all of cricket governed by the ECB.
Our short-term focus will also be to seek to play a leading role in the upcoming, above-mentioned game-wide consultation process, to ensure that we continue to make the game in Wales the most inclusive sport in our country, and the absolute best it can be.
We will also, with support from our funders and partners, double down on our existing initiatives to grow cricket’s reach, relevance and access, which has already seen, for example, triple-digit-% growth in female participation and exponential growth in women’s and girls' teams, more children than ever in state schools in under-privileged areas picking up a bat and ball, and our regional talent pathway grow its proportion of players from ethnic minority backgrounds to 17% (against a national population average of 6%).
We are proud of our achievements and our recent independent awards and accreditations - as should be our paid staff and all the volunteers in Welsh clubs and communities who have delivered these outcomes. But we must not, and we will not rest on our laurels. We know that our work in this space will never be ‘complete’, even if it is already seen as ‘business as usual’ for many of us in the game in Wales.
I also want to reiterate that Cricket Wales will continue to take all allegations or reports of discrimination extremely seriously, and I want everyone in our game to know that they can report discrimination in the knowledge that we, with support from the ECB where required, will act appropriately and proportionately, and we will seek disciplinary sanctions and/or recommend and signpost training and education where any wrongdoing – whether intentional or inadvertent – is founded.
You can report anything you have witnessed, or to which you have been subjected, here. You can report anonymously, however this does make formal investigation by ourselves or the ECB more difficult. But we will always action anything we can with the information available to us.
I would especially like to place on record my gratitude to colleagues at Sport Wales and in Welsh Government for their support, particularly over the last 10 days, and for their encouragement and endorsement of Cricket Wales’ long-standing dedication to making our sport as accessible, fair and welcoming to all who wish to participate.
Most importantly, I want to thank all members of the Welsh Cricket family who continue to demonstrate their own commitment to throwing cricket’s doors open to their communities and offering a warm welcome to anyone who walks through them. And to everyone as committed as we are to stumping out discrimination, in any form, and ensuring it finds no place in our sport, we will continue to stand with you.
Chief Executive Officer, Cricket Wales