Equal pay for male and female cricketers a long way off as ECB and Yorkshire outline response to damning ICEC report
Three months ago, the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket released a report that heavily criticised the sport for not doing enough to heal divisions within the game.
The ECB on Monday issued its plan to address the failings uncovered in the report, but actually stopped short of satisfying one of the key measures: equal pay for men and women at domestic level by 2029 and at international level by 2030.
The ICEC report authors said they had received credible evidence that in international white-ball cricket, where there is a broadly equivalent amount of play, the average salary for England women was 20.6 per cent of the average salary for England men in 2021. The report also found total spend on women’s salaries in The Hundred was 25 per cent of what was spent on men’s salaries.
However, while the ECB is determined to close the gap, it has not committed itself to the report’s timeline for achieving equality.
Chief executive Richard Gould said: “(Equal pay on average) is something that we would like to achieve. We know though that we need to accelerate the growth of the commercial element of the women’s game.
“Broadcast value is the key determinant in any of these sports, and that is something we are going to have to deliver on.
“That’s why we want to be open and honest and say that’s not necessarily something we can do within those timescales, but we’ll have a good go.
“Most of our current major broadcast contract runs until the end of 2028. We know we’ve got a journey on there.
“Can we do it in one broadcast cycle? I don’t know is the answer. But we’re going to do whatever we can.”
The ICEC report, which was based on evidence gathered from over 4,200 individuals and organisations connected to cricket, found racism was entrenched in the sport, and that women routinely experienced sexism and misogyny.
It also found the sport to be elitist, highlighting cost barriers within the talent pathway and also issues around cricket’s regulatory and complaints procedures.
The ECB set out its formal response on Monday which included commitments to:
:: Invest £25million per year above the revenue it receives from the women’s game into growing women’s and girls’ cricket at all levels.
:: Removing finance as a barrier in the talent pathway by 2025.
:: Developing action plans to tackle specific barriers facing state school and black children.
:: Setting up a new Cricket Regulator independent of the ECB, to act as prosecutor in disciplinary cases, in time for the 2024 season, and commissioning annual assurance checks to ensure the Regulator is truly independent.
:: Enhancing EDI standards for counties, including more ambitious targets for gender and ethnic diversity.
:: Assessing counties’ performance against minimum EDI standards, and having the power to reallocate matches from venues if there is evidence of non-compliance.
In welcoming the ECB’s response, Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Vaughan outlined the measures the club has gone to to address their own issues.
In a statement on the club’s website, he wrote: "As a club we fully support the ECB in its quest to bring wide-ranging action to tackle discrimination in the sport from breaking down barriers for women and girls, increasing uptake within lower socio-economic groups, and being more representative of our ethnically diverse communities.
“Some critical steps have been taken to build a more inclusive environment and better foundation for everyone associated with Yorkshire cricket.
“The YCCC Pathways performance programme has been a key factor in increasing inclusion and access to cricket for young people across the county.
"In 2022 we introduced measures to increase accessibility to the sport for those from low income households including removal of match fees and the provision of free kit.
"This has contributed to a 45 per cent increase in attendees for regional observations for boys since 2021, and a 63 per cent rise for girls, with more than 1,800 budding cricketers attending observation days so far in 2023.
"Within the YCCC Boys County Age Group, 30 per cent are from a diverse background and 71 per cent are from a state school background. For our Girls County Age Group 12 per cent are from a diverse background and 82 per cent are from state schools.
"We are holding further open trials in the coming months which we hope will further broaden representation in these groups, as well as a ground-breaking open trials day with the Lahore Qalandars at Bradford Park Avenue in October, as we look to unearth even more talent from the Men’s and Women’s game across the region.
“From our work with the Yorkshire and Humber Anti-Racism in Sport Group, to accreditation via the Muslim Athlete Charter, we’ve learnt that the only way to achieve success is by working together, from the grassroots level to the elite, in partnership with organisations outside of the sport.
“At Yorkshire County Cricket Club we are optimistic that we can continue on our journey to bring about real and lasting change, and whilst there is still a long way to go and much to be done we are committed on our mission and will work with the ECB to do everything we can to learn from the past and use our hard-earned experience to help support other clubs on the journey to improving standards across the game and making cricket a sport for everyone.”