Are The ECB Guilty Of Bringing The Game Into Disrepute?

I want to be clear from the outset of this post: It is not a joke. It is not hyperbole. It is not a hypothetical exercise. I truly believe that the ECB, according to its own rules, could refer itself to its ‘independent’ disciplinary committee for bringing the game and itself into disrepute. What follows is my argument for why it should happen.

This post was prompted by the news that Essex CCC were being charged under ECB directive 3.3 for failing to investigate the alleged use of racist language by their chairman John Faragher from 2017 (an allegation Faragher has denied).

To summarise: Faragher was accused of using a dated American expression which, for the sake of not getting this site filtered by Google and WordPress for content, I won’t explicitly refer to here. It is certainly a racist phrase, and using it in any workplace is unacceptable. Failing to investigate such a complaint is also totally unacceptable, and the timing of when it went public certainly harmed the sport’s image in England by seemingly confirming that issues weren’t confined to Yorkshire CCC.

But there is a complication: It would appear that the ECB themselves were informed of the allegation in 2018 and, like Essex CCC, they failed to investigate it. Nor did they look into Essex’s failure to follow the correct procedure at the time. It was only in 2021, under intense media and parliamentary pressure, that they finally acted. If the lack of response from Essex CCC has brought English cricket into disrepute, surely the ECB are equally as guilty?

This is sadly not an isolated incident. There are numerous examples of the ECB failing to investigate racist occurrences. The most obvious recent example relates to Azeem Rafiq, where they were content allowing Yorkshire CCC to royally screw things up for over a year. However, it should be remembered that Rafiq was only one of several ex-players who made allegations of racism in the press. Michael Carberry, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Dave Burton, Alex Tudor, Chris Thompson, and no doubt severals others who I have missed have all disclosed specific examples of racism within county cricket in the past two years.

The ECB’s inaction is not just related to cricketers. Umpires John Holder, Ismail Dawood and Devon Malcolm have accused them of discriminating against Black and Asian match officials. Alison Mitchell has alluded to racism within the England press box by ECB-accredited journalists being a recurring issue, with no investigations forthcoming. Pakistani journalist Saj Sadiq complained to the ECB last summer about how he was treated by the security at four separate England games, but was ignored. Former Leicestershire CCC chair Mehmooda Duke appears to have resigned from her role after being “intimidated” “coerced” and “manoeuvred” by people within the ECB.

Should Essex CCC be punished for failing to follow the proper procedure after they were made aware of the allegations regarding Faragher’s behaviour? Almost certainly, but surely the ECB must be held to the same standard. Where Essex may be guilty of one or two counts, I’ve listed at least twelve cases of the ECB failing to investigate or act regarding racism in this post. Are the ECB not also bound by the rules they (fail to) enforce?

There is, perhaps, one problem with my thesis. Reading the ECB Cricket Disciplinary Committee’s regulations (I really know how to have a fun weekend), it’s not entirely clear whether the ECB as an entity is accountable to the committee. The only organisations it lists as ‘participants’ in its disciplinary process are “members”, which means the 39 counties (first-class and national) plus the MCC. If this is the case, then perhaps the ECB as a whole can escape due to a trifling technicality. It seems inarguable otherwise that they would be found guilty.

Individual employees are clearly liable though, as it specifically mentions “committee members of the ECB”. This would presumably include chief executive Tom Harrison as chair of the executive committee, for example. It is certainly be very difficult to imagine that this sustained failure to act over a long period of time in so many cases from the ECB could be possible without the knowledge and support of such senior members of staff.

I am sure that Harrison would resign long before any hearing took place. It is already being rumoured that will be leaving in the next few months anyway (just after his loyalty bonus is due, coincidentally). However, just referring him to the disciplinary committee would be an important message for the ECB to project that no one in English cricket is unaccountable and that things will genuinely change going forward. It would also help the ECB deflect accusations of double standards as it finally starts dealing with historic complaints and punishing the clubs or individuals responsible.

And at the end of the day, isn’t everyone being treated the same what equality is all about?

Thanks for reading. If you have any comments about the post or anything else cricket-related, leave them below.

19 thoughts on “Are The ECB Guilty Of Bringing The Game Into Disrepute?

  1. Marek Feb 21, 2022 / 10:46 pm

    Glad that your bedtime reading is so exciting, Danny!

    Reading some of it too, I would agree that individual committee members (but not the ECB as a body, presumably on the same basis that the Queen can’t commit a criminal offence) could be charged under Directive 3.3…but that Essex probably can’t!

    That’s because Directive 3.3 applies to all “particpants”–and a participant is defined as a “person”. A county cricket club is not a person; if they’d meant “people and organisations”–which from the rest of that directive it seems they did–they should have drafted it clearly enough to say so.

    In passing, a bit more of the definition of “participant” is “any person subject to the jurisdiction of the ECB as set out in the CDC Regulations”. Great–except that that isn’t set out in the CDC regulations! (What is set out is who comes under the jurisdiction of the CDC itself, which the ECB’s own website says operates at arm’s length from the ECB–that is, they are not co-terminous). So the drafting in general looks a bit dodgy to me, and if I was Essex’s solicitor, I would be looking at it very carefully!

    On the general issue, Essex may have brought the game into a bit more disrepute in November, but I think they also did the game a favour in a strange way by underlining that institutional and casual racism wasn’t limited to Yorkshire–as several Essex players reminded us in the days immediately following and the ones you’ve mentioned and others (I also remember Mark Nelson, Lonsdale Skinner, James Pearson, Richard Sargent and Syd Lawrence) had been reminding us for well over a year.

    Like

    • dannycricket Feb 21, 2022 / 10:59 pm

      Essex CCC are a ‘Member’ though (CDC Regulation 2.1.1).

      To quote from the ECB website: “It [the ECB] is owned by its 41 members – comprising the chairs of the 18 First Class Counties, the 21 Cricket Boards of the non-First-Class Counties, the National Counties Cricket Association and the Marylebone Cricket Club.”

      This is why regulation 2.1.1 specifies that members (ie clubs) “shall be accountable, additionally, for the acts, omissions and
      statements of all those who are its paid or unpaid employees, agents, officers of committees or committee members”. Because that is the only category covered by the CDC which isn’t just the individuals who have committed the offence but also the entire club.

      Like

    • Marek Feb 21, 2022 / 11:22 pm

      That;s exactly why Regulation 3.3 is so badly drafted. It’s pretty clear that it’s MEANT to cover Members as bodies…but the wording equally clearly seems to specifically exclude them. If they meant it to include Members as bodies, they could easily have said so–but the lack of continuity in the terminology of the CDC Regulations and the ECB Directives give a pointer as to why it doesn’t…:-)

      Like

      • dannycricket Feb 22, 2022 / 6:17 am

        It does appear to be the first time that a county has been charged with this offence (Yorkshire CCC awaiting the ECB’s review, you’d think), so there isn’t any precedent for it.

        Like

    • dannycricket Feb 21, 2022 / 11:06 pm

      Yes, and this now leads the ECB into the issue of proportionality. If Durham got that treatment just for having money troubles, in large part because of the ECB’s handling of them, then how much worse must Yorkshire CCC’s punishment have to be? 100 point penalty in every competition for the next 20 years?

      Like

    • Marek Feb 21, 2022 / 11:28 pm

      Potentially it’s much worse than that I think–because the issue is not only proportionality (which could be the result of incompetence) but also, as Dobell says, the possible perception that it was a piece of corrupt bullying designed to benefit financially the ECB’s millionaire chair. Which of course was precisely what a lot of people–especially immediately north of Scotch Corner–were perceiving six years ago.

      Like

      • dArthez Feb 23, 2022 / 7:49 am

        Not just perception. Perception is still giving the benefit of the doubt for worse, and I don’t think that is actually warranted here (or for anything the ECB does; in a way the Robinson tweet sage sums up the ECB’s stance on inclusivity perfectly).
        In cases such as this, where the rot seems systemic, it would probably be better to start with the presumption of guilt, unless innocence can be proven. With systemic rot, by the time one thing is dealt with, another horror has popped up, which takes years to get the attention it deserves (see Essex’ chairman comments, or crucial details get obfuscated – that is it is impossible to make meaningful progress, unless we start with the assumption of guilt; and if that means getting rid of everyone with a bigger job title than ‘junior officer’ so be it – otherwise this grand incompetence simply keeps on feeding on the game, like a cancer that has gone out of control, and sucking the life out of it.

        Obviously the ECB wants to PR the horrors away, rather than take a principled stand on matters of inclusivity or venality. In effect it seems that they have rewarded YCCC for the wrongs they have committed, and are now desperately trying to make people call it justice.

        But since Durham could be stripped their Test status over money, the same should actually apply to YCCC. After all, they were made somewhat financially sustainable by an ECB chairman blatantly engaging in profiteering from conflicts of interest (and other seemingly illegal constructions, such as the veto power Graves effectively held) – and it is well possible that if YCCC had been forced to give up Test status, Durham would have made enough money to pay the bills as a consequence.

        Like

        • dannycricket Feb 23, 2022 / 8:38 am

          I discovered yesterday that the ECB Director of Diversity Kate Miller was originally hired in 2019 as the Director of Communications (after working in PR and marketing before). ‘Diversity’ was added to her job title later, despite her having no obvious background in the area before. One might argue her ability to spin is more important than her ability to effect change in her role.

          Like

      • Marek Feb 23, 2022 / 9:38 pm

        I’m not big generally on starting from presumptions of guilt. It’s generally a very good way to end up with the ship run by arrogant purity trippers and paranoid conspiracy theorists…All revolutions devouring their own children and all that!

        Like

  2. StaffordshireKnot Feb 24, 2022 / 3:42 pm

    I’m sick and fed up of the concept of ‘racism’ being twisted out of shape – particularly retrospectively – and used by anyone who may be on the make, after revenge or just looking to cause trouble.

    As a white man in Asia for decades I’ve been on the end of racist epithets, been told to ‘go home’ and received unequal treatment in the work-place. I can assure you that such treatment does not create ‘victims’ nor leave people ‘devastated’ (is there a word in the English language that is misused more often and to such a degree?)……..not anybody who wasn’t actively seeking to be ‘devastated’ anyway.

    Today, the use of ‘inappropriate’ comments and epithets are just that – inappropriate; and any person or any society with any common sense whatsoever realises that anyone who utters them exposes themselves as ignorant, oafish and worthy of being socially shunned.

    As for ‘historic’ ‘offences’ – such as Rafiq experienced – then they must be put in context, one cannot and should not apply the social standards of 2022 to something that was said in 2002, especially if the ‘victim’ has continued to tolerate – if not flourish in – that same environment.

    It is very unhealthy for these instances to be dragged up all the time, and for authorities to grovel and prostrate themselves over things that are essentially meaningless.

    Speech is harmless…….real racism involves apartheid, denial of franchise, lynching and other targetted violence and proactive, vicious bigotry.

    Michael Vaughan saying ‘you lot’ is utterly meaningless………though after he joined the pile on of Ollie Robinson, I’m quite glad he took some of his own medicine.

    Like

    • Marek Feb 24, 2022 / 8:52 pm

      Speech is absolutely not harmless–and your universalising of your own experience to dismiss other people’s experiences and to write them off merely as people actively seeking to be devastated, revenge-seekers and so on combine to make you look ignorant, arrogant, unfeeling and self-obsessed.

      And you might want to check some of your “facts”: many of the key allegations in Rafiq’s claim, for example, came from 2017 and 2018. Are you really trying to tell me that racism was somehow acceptable in 2018 but isn’t in 2022 (or for that matter that it was in 2002?)

      Rather than flinging round wild, woolly uninformed criticism of any black or brown person who has the temerity to complain that racial discrimination doesn’t always make you feel wonderful about yourself, it might be more enlightening in the larger context to look at why you personally are feeling so defensive about this as a white person and at the virulence and aggression of your response to those claims.

      Liked by 1 person

      • StaffordshireKnot Feb 24, 2022 / 11:12 pm

        Completely disagree…..

        What does ‘universalising’ mean?

        Speech is mostly harmless – well, “Nobody can make you feel small without your own consent”.

        There is no ‘virulence’ and ‘aggression’ in my response.

        To my mind, you are clearly a base race-baiter whose only desire is the continued division of society…….a ‘division’ that doesn’t really exist.

        Like

      • Marek Feb 25, 2022 / 10:15 am

        “You are clearly…”. You don’t know anything about me other than through the filter of your own prejudices.

        Like

        • James Walker Feb 25, 2022 / 8:02 pm

          My only prejudice is directed at dishonest people and fools

          Like

          • dArthez Feb 25, 2022 / 9:01 pm

            In other news: Yokel privilege is blind to yokel privilege.

            Like

    • bob Mar 27, 2022 / 4:46 pm

      yes, it’s the ‘vaccine’ aka poison you know!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s