English cricket chiefs are to introduce an independent regulator in response to a damning report that found racism and other forms of discrimination were entrenched in the game.
The regulator, to be in place for next season, will be ring-fenced from the rest of the England and Wales Cricket Board and be responsible for investigating and punishing rule breaches.
It comes three months after the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) issued a scathing assessment in its report, prompted in part by the racism scandal at Yorkshire.
Other measures to be adopted by the ECB include enhancing its equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) standards and banning counties who fall short from hosting Test and other internationals.
The governing body has also pledged to invest £25m more than forecasted revenues to grow women’s cricket, including equalising match fees for men’s and women’s England players.
“There is no doubt that the ICEC highlighted to great effect the impact of discrimination on individuals and the extent of the systemic challenges to be addressed,” said ECB chair Richard Thompson.
“Its in-depth analysis also presented an opportunity to put in place a comprehensive plan of action that will deliver meaningful change and rebuild trust among the communities we serve.
“This response represents a set of actions that will accelerate and intensify our work to make cricket a game for everyone, actions that cricket can deliver and fund within an achievable timeframe. It builds on a huge amount of work which is already under way right across the network.
“Cricket hasn’t got it right in the past, but this is an opportunity to move forwards together.”
It comes as the government presses ahead with plans to implement an independent regulator in English football which will be completely separate to the Football Association.
The chair of the ICEC, Cindy Butts, concluded in the report, which followed a two-year inquiry: “Our findings are unequivocal. Racism, class-based discrimination, elitism and sexism are widespread and deep rooted.”
The ECB’s response is an 11-point plan that it said was “taking forward most of the ICEC’s recommendations”.
As well as forming an independent regulator, enforcing higher EDI standards and boosting investment in the women’s and girls’ game, it will redesign its talent pathway to attract more players from state schools and black and Asian backgrounds, improve the transparency of the complaints process, and add victimisation to the list of offences in the anti-discrimination code.