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Icec chairman slams ECB for lack of 'moral backbone' on Botham comments | ECB

The England and Wales Cricket Board showed a lack of “spine” in failing to acknowledge Lord Botham's criticism of a major report into discrimination in sport, the chairman of the reports commission has told MPs.

The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket report, published last June, concluded that racism was embedded in cricket and that women in the sport regularly experience sexism and misogyny. It turned out that cricket was still an elite sport with little to no focus on breaking down class barriers.

Former England all-rounder and Durham chairman Botham, 68, described the Icec findings as “nonsense” and the ECB's commissioning of the report as a “complete waste of money”. He added that he had not been contacted by the Icec for his opinion and did not know anyone who had.

Icec chairwoman Cindy Butts told MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee that she believed the ECB's response to the comments had been weak. “I was disappointed that the ECB did not call Lord Botham, the chairman of a premier cricket district.” His words carry weight. The ECB didn't think it was appropriate to come out and actually say, “This is wrong,” she said.

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“Not only did they remain silent, they also resisted calls from stakeholders and people concerned about Mr Botham's comments and chose to remain silent. “I think they should have had a moral backbone on this issue.”

Butts said Botham's response also raised concerns in her mind about how someone who denounces discrimination in Durham might be treated. “There are a number of untruths that he said about the report,” Butts said. “But the most disappointing thing for me is that Lord Botham is the leader of a first class county. “What confidence can those in the county who may be suffering from racism, sexism or class discrimination… have that something will be done about it?

“I was personally disappointed, not least because he is one of my sporting heroes.” “The influence Lord Botham had on me as a young working-class woman growing up in Shepherd's Bush was truly profound.”

ECB Chairman Richard Thompson told the committee at a later meeting that he called Lord Botham after he made the remark “to ask why”.

“I guess the ECB could have had a view or two on this. My feeling was that we're trying to reconcile, we're trying to move forward and heal,” Thompson said. “Lord Botham is entitled to his views, I disagreed with them. I made it very clear to him that I disagreed with them. But we live in a democracy and he is allowed to say these things.

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“I could see what Durham was doing as a county, and we're excited to share their EDI reports and action plans, and it was pretty clear that Durham did a very good job of reaching communities and all types of minority communities.” that did not reach other districts.

“So I think whatever Lord Botham said it was not representative of what Durham did as a club.”

Durham CCC was contacted by the PA news agency seeking a response from Botham.

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