Tuesday 15 December 2020 12:00 pm

Cricket stars Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent given Freedom of the City of London

Cricket stars Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent have been awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

Former West Indies fast bowler Holding, 66, and Rainford-Brent, 36, the first black woman to play for England, are being recognised for their anti-racism advocacy as well as their sporting achievements.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the pair will miss out on a ceremony at Guildhall. Instead, they will receive their honours in a virtual ceremony later today.

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Holding and Rainford-Brent both spoke passionately about their experiences of racism while working as pundits for Sky Sports this year.

“It is entirely right to call out prejudice in all its forms, wherever and whenever it is experienced,” said Lord Mayor of the City of London William Russell.

“Ebony and Michael have taken a courageous stand in speaking out against racism in this country and even within their sport, in which they have both excelled.

“The granting of the Freedom of the City of London, which it is my privilege to support wholeheartedly, recognises how they have added their voices to the growing global movement to stamp out racism, and is given with our sincere gratitude.”

What Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent said about racism

Jamaican Holding and Rainford-Brent, now Surrey’s director of women’s cricket, drew widespread praise after recounting on Sky Sports their experiences of racism.

Rainford-Brent said she had considered quitting the game after becoming disillusioned at endless comments relating to her ethnicity. 

Holding, who took 249 wickets from 60 Test matches in an international career spanning the 1970s and 80s, delivered an eloquent impromptu speech during a rain break. 

The Freedom of the City of London dates back to 1237 and celebrates outstanding contributions to London or public life.