Following the release of the ICEC’s report into discrimination within cricket in England and Wales and having taken the time to fully review and digest its content, we begin our response by wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologising to anyone who has experienced exclusion or discrimination, or has been made to feel unsafe, unwelcome or like they do not belong in the cricket family here in Somerset.
The report made for uncomfortable reading. The experiences of those who have suffered were greatly unsettling and highlight the challenges we collectively face to drive institutional, structural and cultural change. We take this moment to acknowledge and commend the openness and bravery of those who shared their stories. We are conscious many others did not feel able to share theirs.
We believe there is no place for discrimination or exclusion in any form, or at any level, at Somerset County Cricket Club, Somerset Cricket Foundation, Western Storm, or within cricket as a whole. We uphold our responsibility both as individuals, and collectively as partner organisations, to ensure cricket is a game for everyone, no matter how they wish to participate. We are committed to fulfilling our role in driving transformation across the game. Over the next three months we will work collaboratively with the ECB in developing and implementing a game-wide action plan to address the issues presented within the report. Simultaneously, we will engage and work closely with our communities and stakeholders to deliver relevant and meaningful change in the cricket environments we are responsible for across Somerset.
The ICEC states that despite recent commitment to change producing some ‘green shoots’ of progress, not enough has happened at a fast enough pace. We agree there is a long journey ahead to achieve the ambition of cricket being the most inclusive sport in the country. This is also applicable to us in Somerset; we know there is significant work to do to achieve cultural change. We will work closely with the ECB regarding the ICEC’s recommendations, and our Inclusion Advisory Group will support us in ensuring that our actions are appropriate, impactful and drive lasting change across the region.
So far, we have enhanced the governance, accountability and diversity of the Club’s Board of Directors and the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. We have appointed Board member, Dr Habib Naqvi, who has significant experience in this field, as the Club and Foundation’s lead on equity, diversity and inclusion.
“There is no room for discrimination of any kind in cricket. The ICEC’s report is another reminder to ensure cricket is a sport for everyone. At Somerset, we have set out a clear vision for all to enjoy our sport, and to fully respect and value the rich diversity around us, with a real commitment towards equality of opportunity. We know that this in turn will enable us to serve all our staff, our Members and wider communities effectively – delivering outcomes which are personal, fair and transparent.” Dr Habib Naqvi.
Alongside ED&I being a key agenda item at Board meetings, ED&I is the golden thread running through all Club, Foundation and Western Storm activity. Every decision and action within day-to-day business now formally incorporates ED&I considerations.
Between us, we have worked proactively. From fully redeveloping an area of our ground (Gimblett’s Hill) to provide an optimal viewing platform for people with accessible needs, working proactively in the community with adults and young people with disabilities through the Super 1s Programme, facilitating the T20 Matchday Hosts Programme which provides opportunities for young people with disabilities to gain work experience and providing free memberships for carers supporting those with additional needs; to creating partnerships which introduce cricket to young people in diverse communities using street cricket and national programmes in collaboration with Chance to Shine, dedicating our Ondaatje Stand to being family-friendly and alcohol-free and developing a clear strategic focus to increase the number of qualified female coaches in the recreational game, with 60 coaches enrolling. We have also implemented a fully anonymised recruitment procedure across all employed roles to support our fairer recruitment initiatives. With the recent elevation of our partnership with Western Storm, we are working hard to drive equity between the women’s and men’s game. We are passionate about achieving this but acknowledge we have a long way to go to deliver our ambitions for the women’s game in Somerset and across the South-West.
As detailed in the ICEC’s report, we recognise there are substantial barriers impacting access to quality cricket provision and opportunities for many children, specifically from state schools and lower socio-economic groups. While this is serious cause for concern, we actively strive to provide more opportunities for these young people through, for example, our work with the MCC Foundation where we offer identified state school players (boys and girls) who miss out on County Age Group selection, with free coaching and match play to empower them to reach their future potential. We also work with the Clowance Trust, offering state school County Age Group players and selected state school Wyverns squad players additional free coaching across the winter to acknowledge the lack of cricket currently available in the state school sector. The Trust works with Somerset Cricket Foundation as well to offer bespoke girls hubs across the network.
We are aware that there are numerous volunteers who work incredibly hard to do good in our great game, and they will be hurt by the content of the report. The vast majority don’t deserve to be. To them, a big ‘thank you’ for what they do for cricket, and we hope they will continue to work with us and help make cricket the most inclusive sport in the country.
Our ED&I approach and work is detailed on our websites:
EDI @ Somerset County Cricket Club – Somerset (somersetcountycc.co.uk)
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) – Somerset Cricket Foundation.
If you have experienced any form of discrimination at SCCC, SCF or Western Storm, we want to know about it. You can report it to SCCC via our website above, using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to Jaie Goddard, Head of People and Culture, Somerset County Cricket Club, The Cooper Associates County Ground, St James Street, Taunton, TA1 1JT. Similarly, for anything associated with Western Storm, please use the above methods.
If your complaint concerns SCF, please complete the online form found here:
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) – Somerset Cricket Foundation