England and Wales Cricket board chief executive Tom Harrison admitted that it felt like an "earthquake" had hit the sport following former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq's testimony to UK members of parliament last week about being the victim of "institutional racism" in the game.
Harrison was speaking to the media as the ECB published a 12-point, game-wide action plan to tackle all forms of discrimination in the game, following several subsequent confessions of racial abuse from other players.
The governing body has pledged £25mn over five years towards the plan, which looks at furthering education, addressing dressing-room culture, removing barriers in the talent pathway, creating a welcoming environment for all and publishing localised diversity action plans within six months, which includes the aim of making the boardroom of every member 30 per cent female or locally ethnically representative by April 2022.
The plan also commits the sport to adopting a standardised approach to reporting, investigating and responding to complaints, allegations and whistleblowing across the game within three months. UK Sports minister Nigel Huddlestone said last week that the British government could take the "nuclear option" of creating an independent regulator if the ECB does not "put its house in order" over racism.
"The plan has been developed jointly by the ECB, MCC, the PCA, NCCA Ltd, the First Class Counties, Women’s Regional Hosts and the Recreational County Cricket network, as a game-wide response to discrimination within the game.
The ECB has pledged regular updates on progress against delivery of the action plan and EDI goals, and also promised 'additional resources' to ensure significant steps are taken. Barry O’Brien, ECB Interim Chair, said: ‘’There is no doubt this is a critical moment for cricket. After our all-game meeting last week, we said we must rise to the challenge and respond with one voice.
“We have now set out a series of game-wide commitments so that cricket can start to make the transformation that we know is needed. Change is required as a matter of urgency, but we also recognise that sustained action is required over months and years to achieve fundamental and long-lasting progress.”