Rishi Sunak insists ICEC report must be used as chance to reset cricket

Rishi Sunak insists ICEC report must be used as chance to reset cricket

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has held talks with the ECB over this week’s damning report into discrimination in cricket and insisted it must be used as a chance to reset the sport.

Tuesday saw the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report ‘Holding Up A Mirror To Cricket’ released, with its conclusion that the sport was entrenched in racism, women were routinely exposed to sexism and elitism was still rife in the game.

The Prime Minister, a cricket fan who welcomed members of England’s T20 World Cup-winning squad to Downing Street earlier this year, was at Lord’s on day four of the second Ashes Test and reacted to the report during an appearance on BBC’s Test Match Special programme.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak said the report was a hard read (Dan Kitwood/PA)

“For people who love cricket, it was obviously really hard to read,” the Prime Minister said.

“You are just sad that the sport I love, so many people love, for it to be described like that and with all these issues brought to light, it is just sad. That was my first reaction to it.

“Then I spent a little bit of the morning talking to the team at the ECB and I think they have approached it in exactly the right way.

“You have to remember it was the ECB who commissioned this report. No one asked them to. They did it off their own back because they really wanted to be proactive in addressing the concerns people have raised.

“I think they deserve credit for that and they are going about it exactly the right way.

“They have offered an unreserved apology and from conversations I’ve had with their team, they are absolutely committed into fixing all the problems for this to be a reset moment for cricket.

“All of us who love this game want it to be inclusive, open, accessible to everybody, to welcome people from all backgrounds and a place where everyone can feel respect and supported as they’re playing it.

“That’s what we all want and I am confident in the leadership of the cricketing family more broadly, not just the ECB, that they share that ambition, so that’s where we need to get to.”

Andrew Strauss
The Prime Minister presented his Point of Light award to Andrew Strauss (Mike Egerton/PA)

During the Prime Minister’s visit to the home of cricket, he presented ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss with his Point of Light award for his work with the Ruth Strauss Foundation, which has raised more than £500,000 during this Test.

The topic of conversation turned to England’s aggressive ‘Bazball’ style under Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, following criticism of the hosts’ decision to take on Australia’s short-pitched ploy in their first innings.

The Prime Minister added: “It is possible to play Bazball but there are periods in games where you need to recognise the situation.

“I agree with others about probably waiting that situation out, but that doesn’t mean you are throwing Bazball out of the window.

“But I’m not going to sit here and second-guess these guys. They have provided us with the most extraordinary year of cricket.”