Last night Middlesex Cricket’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee met at Lord’s, as the Club continues to move forward with its efforts to make positive change and deliver on all elements of it’s Diversity and Inclusion Activation Plan.
The Committee was bolstered last night by the addition of several new faces, who have volunteered to join the working group - adding their professional expertise to the Club.
Stephen Eskinazi was one of the new faces that joined the group, having been working with the professional men’s players’ leadership group on cultural changes in the dressing room and a code of standards that the playing group have themselves created and will strive to achieve, as did Jamie Cross, who joins the Committee with an impressive background in all areas of diversity and inclusion through their involvement with the world’s first LGBTQ+ cricket club, Graces Cricket Club.
Also joining the Committee, having spent the last few months working with the Club on ED&I matters is Dal Babu, a Middlesex life-member and former Senior Officer in the Metropolitan Police force. Making up the new Committee additions are Faisal Sheikh, who brings extensive knowledge of the recreational game within the county and senior legal expert Zahir Mohammed, who brings a wealth of experience in this area through his work as well as a passion for the game of cricket.
The meeting, chaired by Ankit Shah, saw the Club’s Chairman, Mike O’Farrell, kick proceedings off, speaking openly to the Committee about events surrounding and following the DCMS Select Committee Hearing in January, which was followed by an update from Chief Executive Andrew Cornish, who brought the meeting’s attendees up to date with everything the Club have been doing in this area in recent weeks and on what the Club has planned for the immediate future.
Chair, Shah, focussed on the specifics of the Club’s Activation Plan, how it had evolved since its creation eighteen months ago, and where the focus for the Committee would lie in the coming weeks. The meeting encouraged healthy debate about how best to implement the right strategies to ensure that positive change could be made swiftly that would be of immediate benefit to the communities around the county.
A specific focus was given to discussion around the issue of player transition from Academy and youth cricket to the senior playing ranks, and there was widespread acceptance and unanimous agreement that more work was needed to be done in this area to build a greater understanding around the reasons for a lack of representation of black and Asian cricketers within the Club’s professional ranks, Assurances were given that this is an issue the Club is committed to rectifying.
Ankit Shah, after Chairing last night’s meeting, commented:
“As a group, we are extremely fortunate to have support and expertise in many areas of equality, diversity, and inclusion, and this helps us to debate the issues we are facing, with honest and open conversation, leading toward positive steps being taken. As a Club, we’ve not done anything like this before so we are continuously learning; some of the feedback and experiences we’ve heard have not been easy to listen to, but as a Club and the sport as a whole, we have to be brave enough to admit we can be better and challenge ourselves.
“We know that there is much work to be done, but Middlesex Cricket is wholly committed to making change in this area, and it was encouraging to hear so many opinions, such strong feeling, and a genuine passion from the Committee to make this happen.
“What is clear is that there are some immediate plans we can implement that will help make a positive impact right now, whereas there is much work to be done in other areas to broaden our knowledge and help inform our decisions and actions moving forward.
“I am extremely grateful to the Committee for their work in this hugely important area, and my thanks go to the five new members who have stepped up to the group to offer their experience and expertise. There is some real momentum here that we can build on as we look to drive our initiatives.
“We will continue to keep members and our followers up to date with actions we are taking as the Activation Plan rolls out, and as a Committee we will me meeting regularly to ensure we deliver what we have committed to do. Change will not happen overnight and we should not be judged by what we say; but should be judged on our actions.”