A survey carried out by England and Wales Cricket Board has highlighted that in its first-team county cricket in 2014, only 6.2% is represented by people from a South Asian background, whilst over 30% of that group took part in cricket at the grass root levels. Furthermore, of the 18 first-class counties, five did not have any players from Asian backgrounds in their team this summer.
Whilst it maybe that some cultural issues could be at play such as “many parents within that culture believe that business, finance or medicine are the types of career they prefer their children to pursue,” I would seriously contest that this, or any other cultural reasons are enough of a reason to cause the 6.2% difference. After all if they were to look outside the cricket arena, similar and parallel patterns would also emerge in other environments such as banking, insurance, large retail and so on.
What is more important is how will the England and Wales Cricket Board and the ECB address this shortcoming? Central to its strategy, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the clubs need to look at what are some of the unconscious biases, individually and organisationally present. We all know that we prefer someone from a similar background to ourselves and unwittingly favours certain types of people based on upbringing, experience and values. What are some of the unconscious bias involved in the way people make decisions as to who is talented, who should have access and who can represent their club. The cricket board and ECB can draw from and learn lessons from the corporate environment which for many years has tried to tackle similar issues. A key factor to the cricket board success lies, not only taking strategic actions but also supporting these actions through behavioural awareness of the unintended impact of unconscious biases and findings ways to minimise and reduce them - thus leading to different outcomes.