John Holder, former Test Umpire and Hampshire cricketer, has called for an independent inquiry into the dearth of non-white match officials in the country besides accusing the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] of ‘years of racism’.
Holder, who enjoyed three decades as a professional umpire, is concerned that no non-white umpire has been added to the First-Class list since 1992.
He further added that there have been no non-white Pitch Liason Officer, Cricket Liaison Officer, Match Referee, Umpire’s mentor, or coach.
“I’ve lived in England for 56 years. And I can tell you, hand on heart, I have never experienced racism before. But when you look at these figures when you understand what is going on, it is hard to reach any other conclusion,” John Holder was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“When I stopped working for the ICC, I contacted the ECB to offer my services to mentor umpires. I didn’t even get a reply. Instead, ex-players, some of whom have never stood as umpires, were appointed to the role. That is ludicrous. It’s like employing someone who can’t drive to be a driving instructor,” he added.
Meanwhile, according to a report in ESPNCricinfo, a senior member of ECB’s staff has been suspended following claims of racial discrimination. The official was, however, cleared of any wrong-doing and is expected to resume his work shortly.
“My suspicion is that 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,” John Holder added.
The ECB has responded to John Holder’s statement with a statement-
“Today’s group of professional umpires don’t reflect the diverse ECB we are determined to be. We want to see more BAME representation among our officials and recognize we still have a long way to go as a game to achieve this,” the ECB was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“Earlier this year we commissioned a full independent employment investigation into allegations made against an individual, and while these were not upheld, the investigation did identify areas where we need to be better and do more to be inclusive and diverse,” the statement added.
“The ECB has now commissioned a review, with Board oversight, to look at how we can reform our approach to managing Match Officials. This will set out actions as to how we can improve our systems and processes to increase the diversity of umpiring, inspire the next generation of umpires and match referees, have a world-class umpiring programme, and ensure a culture of inclusivity and fairness throughout the umpiring system,” it added.