Cricket Across Borders – The Globalization and Diversity of the Sport

CWOB has long been active in this arena, hosting programs in Foster City and Redwood Shores as well as providing girls/women the chance to play and coach abroad.

The Globalization of Cricket

After Sportsmail’s investigation of cricket’s shocking lack of diversity a year ago, cricket is slowly awakening – although statistics still demonstrate a lot needs to be done. England’s premier sport still remains predominantly white but there has been progress made in three key areas and numerous programs launched to foster inclusivity.

An expanding youth sector has opened more opportunities for minority ethnic players to become cricket coaches and club volunteers, while the ECB published an anti-discrimination code of conduct. Furthermore, they warned clubs they will face fines if they do not reach targets for BAME players and coaches this season.

Cricket Australia has made substantial investments in grassroots recruitment at schools and a program where seasoned professional cricketers teach elementary school-age children how to play the game, yet all these efforts require funding; unfortunately this cultural issue poses another hurdle: cricket is deeply embedded within British heritage and culture and many non-Brits find the idea of participating in a sport largely composed of white men in sweaters quite off-putting.

Thus the need for new strategies, like those being employed by the ECB. They have set themselves a goal of having 40% BAME coaches and 30% of board members comprised of BAME people by 2024; and support programmes like Cricket Without Borders Exchange that bring young Australian women over to Japan to talk about how they’re making cricket grow and encourage Japanese students to take up playing.

This approach to cricket was meant to counter the perception that it is simply an exclusive, white sport; but this has proven difficult in countries with strong anti-immigrant sentiments. Because of this, the ECB rejected calls from Indian officials seeking inclusion of cricket in the Olympics; such inclusion would likely exacerbate feelings of exclusion among its large immigrant population.

Twenty20 and the IPL have further altered the balance of power within international cricket, shifting it away from London towards Asian-influenced Indian cricket – not simply cultural transference but an entirely different distribution of global power.

The Globalization of the Game

Cricket has quickly become a global pastime, played across more countries and attended by more spectators than ever before in its history. Renowned for its cultural and societal impacts on communities worldwide, cricket still has much work to do in promoting inclusivity and diversity within its ranks.

One year on from Sportsmail’s special report highlighting the shockingly homogenous makeup of English county cricket, signs are emerging that English county game is beginning to wake up to its diversity issue and progress has been made across multiple areas. Minority ethnic players have increased from 33 in 2020 to 40 by 2021 and the ECB have pledged PS25 million over five years to help counties create localised Equality, Diversity and Inclusion action plans; bursaries and scholarships were introduced as ways of recruiting coaches and umpires while Rooney Rule appointments for coaching appointments at first-class clubs are all signs that something big change is underway.

Freya Davies believes the key to seeing England more accurately reflect their country is engaging in youth cricket, specifically through Ebony Rainford-Brent’s ACE program (Advancing Careers Through Cricket Education) which targets barriers faced by black girls. She sees it as a crucial first step.

She emphasizes that for communities from non-traditional cricket backgrounds, the traditional summer season of Saturday games may not be easily accessible; families with two jobs, studying foreign languages or caring for children often do not find this time slot suitable.

For these communities, the ECB has designed an entry level program to introduce them to cricket that is currently being piloted in three counties. This initiative is supported by their Community Talent Champions programme where former professional cricketers mentor youth participants in order to help them access opportunities at their local club. In addition, more scouts will visit non-traditional cricket environments like park leagues in order to identify potential talent while they also partner with local councils, schools and refugee settlement service providers to develop programs tailored specifically to community needs.

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The Globalization of the Players

As cricket has gained in popularity worldwide, so too have its participants evolved. No longer limited to pale white males alone, cricket now draws players from diverse backgrounds including women, boys and men from diverse ethnicities and cultures – although this growth of cricket has not eliminated cultural barriers to participation for some participants.

The International Cricket Council has taken various initiatives to overcome barriers associated with cricket, such as increasing the number of Associate Members who become Full Members (to give them access to its highest tier), as well as adopting Rooney Rule requirements which mandate clubs hire at least one person from an under-represented background in decision-making positions. Furthermore, counties have published localized EDI action plans and encourage all those involved with cricket to report any incidents of racism through an anonymous reporting system.

These efforts are certainly appreciated; however, for a truly global sport to exist it must incorporate local influences and values as well as passion for its playing surface.

Cricket has long been seen as a social sport that builds friendships across cultures, yet globalization of the game has resulted in many players feeling like their connections are being lost or lacking purpose and meaning.

Some have opposed the globalization of cricket while others welcome its development into an inclusive and accepting identity and culture. Cricket continues to attract newcomers from around the globe and the ECB has made great strides toward creating an inclusive culture in cricket with the introduction of Rooney Rule and providing more training opportunities for coaches. This is a fantastic first step, yet there remain numerous issues for the International Cricket Council and all participating countries to resolve for cricket to fulfill its global ambitions. The ICC must work tirelessly to balance localization with globalization while making sure the game remains enjoyable, social and meaningful to players and fans alike.

The Globalization of the Competitions

Like many scholars have done before them, this book uses sport as a lens through which to analyze globalization. Through various approaches and topics explored by this collection of essays – from how sports act as global media spectacles and economic drivers, to the roles local connections and passion play in international sporting events, to the way athletic endeavors that require fierce competition reveal a shared humanity – this book delves deep into sports’ power in shaping and changing global cultures.

Contributors to this volume provide a range of perspectives and interpretations on the globalization of cricket and its effect on world culture. Their scholarly contributions aim to give readers new ways of seeing cricket as a cultural force, and open a dialog about its influence upon both local and global forces that shape its nature and development – both factors which affect cricket globally as well as locally.

This book will prove essential reading for those exploring the intersection between sport and society – be they academics, journalists or lay readers – as it addresses issues related to economies, peoples and capital barriers. Readers concerned with such barriers will take comfort knowing that Indian commerce has helped bring South Asian diaspora communities together in American living rooms so they can watch India win cricket matches on TV.

However, this book also highlights that globalizing cricket can be both beneficial and disadvantageous; with Twenty20 becoming more popular each year, touring Tests between Australia and England have decreased and space for big international showdowns has shrunk considerably – an indication that the International Cricket Council (ICC) may be heading in an incorrect direction with its efforts to globalize cricket; rather than prioritizing Associate Member nations being admitted more quickly but without diminishing quality of gameplay as their top priority,

Richard Estes

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