I believes England cricketer Ollie Robinson should be punished for his racist tweets. Young man or not, he knew what he was doing. But the real problem is that it is the product of an environment created over the years by the cricket authorities, among other agencies.
In 1948 there were 30,000 to 50,000 blacks in Britain. There were black rugby players of British descent, renowned rugby union players, footballers and boxers, but not a single notable black British cricketer. Why? If black people were there and they weren’t playing cricket, there had to be something stopping them.
Historically, blacks in Britain resided around seaports. Yet none of the Kent, Essex, Middlesex, Surrey, Gloucestershire or Lancashire could find a single black cricketer of British descent between them.
Immigration in the late 1940s and beyond from the English-speaking Caribbean cricketers brought in good players, but they were largely avoided by the counties. The cricket authorities didn’t like the way they played the game, aggressively. Some said they played like kids, rough and ready.
In cricket clubs, new immigrants were forced to form their own teams because the big clubs, mostly white, did not allow them to join or use their facilities. Very few of these Caribbean clubs had their own pitches and usually played in parks. Then, the Race Relations Act of 1968 opened the door for Caribbean immigrants to become members. It didn’t mean the racism was stopping, but it did remove the unofficial color bar.
Some Caribbean club cricketers played for large white local cricketers on Saturdays and small black clubs on Sundays. The small Caribbean clubs were the ones that produced the first class cricketers, but they started to disappear because they could not afford the hiring fees on the ground. The ECB (and its predecessor the TCCB) were aware of the clubs’ financial woes but did nothing but join the high-profile chorus that blacks no longer like cricket. The question is, why hasn’t the body responsible for the game of cricket in England help?
The West Indies cricket team triumphed in the 1970s and 1980s. They filled the land like the Indians do now. The Caribbean watched and played for the counties, the majority imported to revitalize the then dying county game. But the success of these imported players, alongside the success of the West Indies team, fueled animosity. Some former England players such as Fred Trueman were among the critics who openly called on the counties to fire Caribbean-born players. Unfortunately, this exclusion also included many players of Caribbean descent who grew up in England. The trend towards exclusion is still playing out today.
In 1999 the Clean Bowl report was released with fanfare and then ECB CEO Tim Lamb told the public that “complacency towards racial equality is not acceptable” and “We must open up. our doors to everyone ”. Twenty years later, and the same organization that sanctions Robinson has done very little with the report. They did worse than Robinson in knowingly pushing Caribbean cricket to England, refusing to fund it, but no one is sanctioning them.
For 28 years from 1992, the ECB did not appoint a non-white match official at the first-class level, until this year after John Holder and Ismail Dawood threatened them with a court case from the work and they named Devon Malcolm and Dean Headley. Why wouldn’t the ECB hire one of these officials when they had this very big report on their desk?
Over the past four years they have spent almost £ 2million on South Asian cricket as India has grown into a big powerful body in cricket. I don’t want to take money from South Asians, but where is the money for Caribbean cricket in England? The ECB is looking to Cindy Butts (chair of the Independent Cricket Equity Commission) to take all of her sins away. They think she is Jesus Christ. It will report in June 2022, but by the time they sit down and review its contents, it will likely be 2024. In the meantime, what will happen to the already struggling Caribbean cricket clubs? I am of the opinion that the ECB will be satisfied with their disappearance.
The county cricket academy system was developed by middle class whites for middle class whites. The time of presence of young men and women in these academies are for the most part unsuitable for the working poor who are supposed to accompany their children to the activity. In addition, it is unfairly expected that cricketers in public schools will compete with those in fee-paying schools with year-round cricket facilities and mentoring for limited places in academies of cricket. Yet it is meant to be a sport for everyone in Britain.
There are very few people of Caribbean descent on the committees of county cricket clubs, minor county cricket clubs, or county cricket foundations.
There are only a small number of Level 3 or Level 4 trainers of Caribbean origin. Blacks are absent at all levels of cricket, at the same time as they pay taxes which contribute to agencies that provide funds to the ECB.
Outgoing Surrey CEO Richard Gould deserves a lot of credit. Representatives of the African Caribbean Cricket Association visited him in 2019 to exchange ideas on increasing the participation of young Caribbean people in cricket. Within a month, he came up with the now impressive ACE program made up of young people who supposedly don’t like cricket.
Why were no questions asked of the three CEOs – Lamb, David Collier and Tom Harrison – who sat on this 1999 report? This is the real scandal. Why did Harrison wait until June 2020, when young people were running the streets, to start talking about including people of Caribbean descent into cricket? The ECB then chose not to put a dime into Caribbean cricket in its 2021 budget. It is so sad because there are fantastic and talented young cricketers out there in the different Caribbean communities in England.