Commission head highlights ‘rotten’ cricket culture in wake of report

Commission head highlights ‘rotten’ cricket culture in wake of report

Cindy Butts, chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, said she heard “horrific” stories during a report which investigated racism, sexism and misogyny in cricket.

Butts told the BBC the report found widespread issues in the English and Welsh game.

“We heard of women being constantly stereotyped, demeaned, facing predatory behaviour,” she said.

“We heard from women who are having to walk into scoreboxes and face signs that say ‘no bras allowed’. This is 2023, not 1923.”

More than 4,000 people responded to the ICEC’s call for evidence for the Holding Up A Mirror To Cricket report.

The commission made 44 recommendations, including a call for the England and Wales Cricket Board to make a public apology recognising that racism, sexism, elitism and class-based discrimination existed – and still exist – and recognise the impact of that upon victims.

“We heard from a former Muslim player who had to endure the indignity of his team-mates laughing and joking about one of the players using the prayer mat to clean up after sex,” she said.

“The stories were absolutely horrific and it goes to show that the culture in cricket is rotten.”

Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket Handout Photo
The ICEC Commissioners: (left to right) Michelle Moore, Sir Brendan Barber, Cindy Butts (Chair), Dr Michael Collins and Zafar Ansar (Josimar Senior, PA)

Butts said women are treated as “subordinate” to men in the sport and have been subjected to harassment.

“What we’ve seen is that women are vulnerable when around a drinking culture, they are subjected to sexual harassment, lots of sexting,” she said.

“We’ve heard from a number of women who talk about being vulnerable and being exposed and having unwanted advances made on them by men.”

In a letter to her, ECB chair Richard Thompson apologised and said: “We will use this moment to reset cricket.”

ECB, PCA and First-Class Counties meeting
English and Wales Cricket Board chairman Richard Thompson (Victoria Jones, PA)

“Cricket should never exclude anyone on the basis of their ethnicity, gender or social background,” Thompson said.

“We apologise unreservedly for these experiences, and are thankful for the courage of those who have shared them with the ICEC, whilst recognising there will be many more who felt unable to give their accounts.”

Among the recommendations is a call for a fundamental overhaul of the pay structure in the women’s professional game and equal representation for the women’s game throughout the governance structure of English and Welsh cricket.