The PCA has started delivering inclusivity education to the next generation of professional cricketers at the 18 first-class county academies.
The initiative, supported by West Indies bowling legend Michael Holding, sees the PCA talking to the country’s brightest young talents about developing inclusive environments within the game.
By starting conversations about why diversity and acceptance are so important in professional dressing rooms and beyond, the PCA is helping academy players develop as people so they can represent cricket in the best way possible – and take these skills into their lives after cricket.
The players consider the definition of inclusion, ask themselves which types of behaviour can, and cannot, be tolerated in an inclusive environment, and what they can each do to make the professional cricket environment more inclusive.
Michael Holding appears in a video shown to the young players during the sessions, in which he explained his belief that people do not say inappropriate things because they are bad people, but because of the environment they are in and what that has taught them, his understanding of the term ‘white privilege’ and more.
The sessions – which opened at Leicestershire CCC on Tuesday 16 November – end with each player receiving a guide to the Equality Act 2010 and the ECB’s updated Anti-Discrimination Code.
After a session at Derbyshire CCC, academy player Tauseef Kataria said: “It was a very good session on how we need to include people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and sexualities, especially given everything that has been going on in the game recently.
“These conversations need to happen. I’ve personally always felt included at Derbyshire, but that might not be the case in every set-up.
“It’s something we need to continue to talk about and be open about. If I’m personally and emotionally happy, then I will perform better and the club will benefit. If I’m not feeling included then I won’t do so well for the club or for myself.”
Fellow Derbyshire academy player Archie Harrison said: “It was really beneficial for the group to discuss this topic in a face-to-face environment.
“It provides a good foundation for the players to understand each other even more and keep moving in the right direction, in terms of both the club and the academy.
“Discrimination is not something I’ve experienced, so I feel it’s really important to educate myself so I can gain as much understanding as possible.
“This education is vitally important, not just in cricket but in every aspect of life. You can become quite narrow-minded as an academy player, but broadening your perspective outside of earning that contract can really help you as a person.”
PCA Lead Personal Development Manager Charlie Mulraine said: “These sessions are a key part of our education programme at the PCA, building on the education workshops we delivered throughout the summer with the EW Group.
“We were keen to get back into the dressing rooms and find out how academy players felt about the incidences of racism that have been in the press, and to enable them to question them in their own environment.
“It has been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring to see such a healthy culture in our academies.
“There’s an understanding that healthy banter is important, but there’s a balance and understanding of where the boundaries are in supportive environments.
“Recent news stories have highlighted that cricket needs to have a look at itself, and education is at the heart of that as we’ve seen from these sessions.”
The initiative continues the PCA’s work in this area, including the setting up of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group in July 2020, and the subsequent delivery of anti-racism training to all professional squads in England and Wales in partnership with the EW Group. In total, 80 workshops were delivered within professional cricket, including all professional squads, academies, coaches and staff.
Recently, the PCA joined the ECB and all professional teams in agreeing to a game-wide commitment to tackle racism and promote inclusion at all levels of cricket. The PCA’s role in the 12-point plan includes reshaping and evolving education of full-time professionals and academy players.
This forms part of the PCA’s wider Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP), a personalised support service helping individuals to develop sustainable performance in and outside cricket.