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MPs demand ECB watches Yorkshire closely: ‘No return to business as usual’
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MPs demand ECB watches Yorkshire closely: ‘No return to business as usual’

MPs have called on the England & Wales Cricket Board to monitor Yorkshire closely, apparently out of concern that the county will waver from its commitment to diversity and inclusion after Colin Graves’s return as chairman.

In a report published on Friday the culture, media and sport committee asks the ECB to ensure “there is no return to the ‘business as usual’ that allowed a culture of discrimination to take root and thrive” at Yorkshire, and also to publish an update on its own attempts to make the sport more inclusive.

In a separate development the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, announced on Friday an investment of £35m in grassroots cricket facilities and widening access to the sport within state schools, in the latest move to get one million more young people physically active by 2030.

Graves, meanwhile, gave evidence to the committee for the first time in February, and in its report the CMS committee highlights a few inconsistencies and concerns that emerged during that hearing, pinpointing his explanation for delaying an apology for describing racist abuse at the club as “banter” for eight months, before eventually retracting the comments shortly before Yorkshire’s membership voted to ratify his return.

They also note his denial of a Guardian report that he had initially submitted a bid for the club that was dependent on its demutualisation, of which they had documentary evidence. “Mr Graves eventually remembered his bid,” they note. “He nonetheless told us that he ‘had no ambition to own Yorkshire’ and that he did not believe the future of Yorkshire was best served being owned by him rather than the members. We agree.”

The committee also heard from three members of the ECB’s Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, and from the ECB’s chair, chief executive and deputy chief executive. The ICEC had delivered a report that contained 137 recommendations and the CMS committee focused on areas where “there was disagreement between the recommendations and the ECB’s response” and identified “a reluctance to strengthen and widen sanctions for EDI [equity, diversity and inclusion] breaches in county cricket”. They concluded that the ECB should publish a progress report in September; the ECB had already committed to producing an annual progress report and the first is due later this year.

Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, chair of the CMS committee, said: “The ECB has made welcome progress on fixing the problems facing cricket identified so powerfully in the ICEC report. To achieve its ambition for cricket to be the most inclusive sport in the country and truly welcoming to all it must be open on how it is backing up its words with actions.

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“The start of the county cricket season is always a time for optimism, and we hope that members at Headingley can look forward to a successful future, with a board committed to a member-led club and a continued focus on tackling discrimination. The ECB should keep a close eye on progress to ensure Yorkshire continues going down the road to reform.”

Source: theguardian.com