British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he was “sad” to read a damning report that claimed racism and sexism are rife within English cricket.
The publication of the Independent Commission report into Equity in Cricket came in the wake of a racism scandal centred around the treatment of Pakistan-born bowler Azeem Rafiq at English side Yorkshire.
Rafiq went public with allegations of racism and bullying in 2020, prompting the England and Wales Cricket Board to commission the report.
Six former Yorkshire players found guilty of using racist language in the Rafiq case were last month fined by the Cricket Discipline Commission.
Of the more than 4,000 individuals interviewed for the ICEC report, 50 percent described experiencing discrimination in the previous five years, with the figures substantially higher for people from ethnically diverse communities.
Women were often treated as “second-class citizens”, the report found, also stating that not enough had been done to address class barriers, with private schools dominating the pathway into cricket.
Appearing on BBC Radio during the second Test between England and Australia at Lord’s on Saturday, Sunak said: “It was, for people who love cricket, really hard to read and you were just sad.”
A total of 44 recommendations were made in the report, including a call for equal pay for male and female international players by 2030.
Sunak said the ECB was “absolutely committed” to fixing the problems outlined in the report.
“I have 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,” he said.
“They commissioned this report off their own back because they wanted to be proactive so they deserve credit for that.”
Sunak hopes the report provides cricket with a chance to reset its moral compass.
“They have offered an unreserved apology and are fully committed to implementing change and for this to be a reset moment for cricket,” he said.
“We all want it to be open for everybody from all backgrounds and where everyone can feel respect and supported when playing it.
“So that’s what we want and I’m confident the whole cricketing family share that ambition.”
Sunak, the first British Asian Prime Minister, said he had endured his own problems regarding racism, although he acknowledged the progress made on the issue in the United Kingdom.
“Of course I have experienced racism growing up, in particular, and of course I know it exists,” he said.
“It stings you in a way that very few other things do. It stings you. It does hurt.”