Cricket Board says “We will transform this game very quickly”

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England Wales Cricket Board  say “We will transform this game very quickly”

So said England Wales Cricket Board (ECB) CEO Tom Harrison at a hearing at the UK Parliament looking at several claims of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club  (YCCC) on 16th November 2021.

In the UK, the story surrounding both cricket as a sport, the many cases of racism across the sport, the less than diverse culture at YCCC and the (lack of) response from ECB has dominated the news for a few days.

It also worth noticing that the story first hit the headlines when after the YCCC had been suppressing the report looking into the case for more than a year and then almost all of YCCC’s sponsors withdrew or suspended their support.

In front of the MPs former star player for YCCC, Aseem Rafiq, gave a testimony which has truly shocked cricket across in the country and severely damaged the reputation of YCCC. During the session Azeem Rafiq said: “I will not let my son anywhere near cricket”.

You can read more about the case here from the BBC website:

Azeem Rafiq: ‘A trailblazer who has created a watershed moment’ – BBC Sport
So, Tom Harrison faces a significant challenge which, he says, he is ready to tackle.

“I would say please understand that we are really sorry for the experiences you may have been through trying to experience cricket in this country,” he says.
“We know we may have let you down. We will fix it fast. We know the survival of our sport depends on it.”

Many membership organisations, within and outside sport, are often having with groups and factions who are unwilling to change and, inevitably, they suffer and don’t adapt and change to the world around them.

So, this article has been prompted by developments in cricket in England, but the principles and challenges apply to most sports, community and membership organisations.

So, how to start your journey towards becoming a more diverse and inclusive place

Based on our comprehensive work with change within community sport, for the sake of goodwill and support here are Sports Marketing Network’s advice:

But first, take a look here and notice the current stats for male cricketers in the UK and the composition of the ECB’s board:

30% of club cricketers in the UK are Asian…

but only 4% of pro cricketers are Asian

First, this is not about policies – it’s about developing a welcoming and open culture and experiences for everyone. We can all download some wonderful policies and then claim that we are diverse and inclusive. But it is about how everyone within your club, group, facility sports body behave and welcome people from the whole community.

It all starts at the door

How do new people feel when they stand outside your place for the first time?  Do they see somebody like themselves, someone they can associate with?

One golf club secretary said to me: “Of course, we welcome new members as long as their handicap is low enough”

As we highlight below there are some key drivers for stepping up change and similarly some key barriers for change:

Create lasting change working with the willing.

The Negaholics can ruin, or delay change, and in our experience, there is no point in trying to change them and/or their views and attitudes, and most importantly don’t try and change them, because you can’t.  No one can. There is no other way than get them to leave, politely, or otherwise. 

The longer they stay on, the more they will poison your organisation, sport and/or club and make your change project even more difficult!

1. Create a sense of urgency  

The first step is all about taking everyone out of their comfort zones; followers and leaders alike. Everyone must understand and see the need for change, and be aware of how urgent this change is. This will create immediate support for an inspiring vision for the organisation.

For a leader to achieve this, they must be open and clear in their dialogue, listing all the issues with current systems, processes and activities, and why they should be changed at this time.

Find that Big Opportunity that could ignite the hearts+minds of your people.

2. Form a guiding coalition 

As this change initiative is a project in itself, it requires a project team to be formed.

The leader should seek to form a group of volunteers who have fully bought into the need for change and understand the goals of the project.

his coalition will manage the general running of the initiative and will encourage all other employees to buy in and aid in its implementation. Ideally, this inner coalition will be formed of individuals from across different sectors of the organisation or team, as this diversity can offer unique approaches to problem-solving and decision-making, but also so that individuals from the wider organisation can buy into the team.

Engage beyond the ‘usual suspects’ and have more brains to thinks, more eyes to see and more hands to do.

3. Develop an inspired vision 

The guiding coalition and leadership now should coordinate to create an inspiring vision for change within the organisation.

By formulating this clear vision, everyone throughout the organisation can understand fully what the project is aiming to achieve within the outlined time frame.

When change is outlined in writing, individuals can truly understand the intent and depth of the initiative, and by aligning it with organisational values and strategies, everyone can understand and buy into the direction. Employees can be involved in strategic conversations to encourage further support for the project.

A great vision motivates people to take action.

4. Communicate the new vision 


The predominant goal of the project is to encourage cooperation and support for the vision. Therefore, the way it is communicated to the wider organisation is paramount.

Leaders should take every opportunity to discuss the changes with any individual followers or employees, accepting any concerns or issues on board and integrating them into planning considerations

The new vision needs to be integrated into the activities of all individuals across the organisation, so if any one individual does not accept it, then it can lead to issues with synchronisation and cooperation.

Innovation is less about generating brand new initiatives and more about knocking down barriers to making those ideas a reality.

5. Empower others to enact the vision 

As the employees are those who will be forefront in implementing the change, then they must possess all the skills, resources and confidence to do so.

A good leader will empower their followers to be the best they can be, whether that be through training, coaching, mentoring, or any other method.

As the vision is communicated across the organisation, leaders should become aware of any who are resistant to the change, and they should encourage openness to discover the root of this resistance.

By removing any obstacles to progress in the initiative, and personal development, leaders can relieve this resistance whilst creating empowered and inspired individuals who have bought into the vision.

6. Generate short-term wins 

Nothing is more motivational at the individual level than success. By breaking the project down into smaller, short-term goals, then individuals gain a clear idea of progress but are also motivated by immediate successes.

Once they have achieved these short-term goals, individuals will be inspired to continue to build on these and to reach the next milestone for the initiative.

By acknowledging and rewarding those who are crucially responsible for short-term wins, leaders can motivate individual followers, and others can become more aware of the route that the organisation is taking.

7. Sustain the successes 

Many organisations fail to sustain real change as they declare victory over their change initiatives too early, mistaking short-term wins and immediate progress for long-term success.

Change is a slow process – and to be fully accepted it must be ingrained in the underlying culture, values and objectives of the organisation.

Quick wins are only the beginning of this long-term change, and the organisation must continue to seek improvements and push for new successes.

Only after several successes have been achieved can it be established that the change process is paying off. Leaders should be open to accepting any failures or non-successes, and to listen to any suggestions from followers from across the organisation.

8. Anchor the change 

The final step is for leaders to anchor and truly embed change within the core and culture of the organisation.

Change does not come about and sustain itself alone – all of the organisation’s values and objectives, systems and processes must be inspected and evaluated in the context of the change initiative.

Leaders are responsible for embedding this change at the team level, and altering the behaviours and standards of the team members in order to sustain the lasting effects.

The progress of the initiative must be monitored closely and regularly in order to consolidate it at a deeper level. This should include discussions with individuals from across the organisation, as their inspiration and cooperation with the new change is crucial, and it is easy for this to drop off over time.

Any new suggested improvements or changes can still be integrated into the progress of the project.

Once the entire change process has been completed, the change must continue to be embedded and evolve with the future of the organisation.

It should be used as a starting point in any recruitment or promotion process – ensuring that individuals understand the organisation’s processes, values and objectives, that they buy into them, and encouraging the leadership of those who can continue to drive the change from within.

It should also be included in any training or personal development programmes for current members of staff, implementing it into their learning and everyday tasks.

Individuals should be acknowledged, appreciated and rewarded publicly for actively contributing to the change process. This will consolidate their support for both leader and initiative, something which may be required for similar situations in the future.

Above all; do NOT drop the urgency