TWO umpires have claimed ‘institutional racism’ is the reason why no non-white officials have joined the first-class panel for a decade.
John Holder, who stood in 11 Test matches, and former player Ismail Dawood are demanding an independent inquiry into the lack of representation.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has now promised a review into its management of match officials to increase the diversity and inclusivity in the sport.
Despite spending almost 30 years as a professional umpire, Holder claimed he did not even receive a reply from the ECB when he applied to be a mentor.
‘It is 11 years since my retirement and ten for Vanburn (Holder). No other non-white umpires have been added to the panel, yet many have graced the game,’ he said.
‘My suspicion is there has been a definite policy of only employing whites for this position.
‘There needs to be a transparent policy related to selecting, training and mentoring umpires, which presently does not exist.’
Meanwhile Dawood, who played for Northamptonshire, Worcestershire, Glamorgan and Yorkshire before retiring in 2005, failed in his attempts to make the first-class umpires panel and alleged he heard racist language in front of ECB staff go unchallenged.
‘The language I have heard over the years has been horrendous,’ he said. ‘I feel the ECB is the last colonial outpost, it is archaic, and any change is marketing rhetoric.
‘I have encountered racial discrimination, dishonesty and misinformation, cronyism, bullying.’
Stump Out Racism said BAME individuals have faced ‘vicious and systematic racism’ and called for a QC-led investigation.
In response, an ECB statement conceded: ‘Today’s group of professional umpires don’t reflect the diverse ECB that we are determined to be.
‘We want to see more BAME representation among our officials and recognise we still have a long way to go to achieve this.
‘The ECB has now commissioned a review, with board oversight, to look at how we can reform our approach to managing match officials.’
■ ENGLAND’S potential limited-overs tour of Pakistan early next year has been delayed. The proposed dates for a first return to the country since 2005 would have clashed with England’s scheduled matches against Sri Lanka and India, and the England and Wales Cricket Board did not wish to mark the occasion with a weakened squad. A series in Pakistan remains a high priority and the ECB hopes the visit can be rescheduled for next autumn.