The England and Wales Cricket Board is set to implement the “Rooney Rule” for elite coaching roles in a bid to improve engagement with South Asian fans and enhance representation in the sport.
The rule, originating from the USA’s National Football League, dictates that at least one candidate from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background must be interviewed for senior coaching positions.
In January, the Football Association said it was considering adopting a similar stance for roles across the England football teams.
In the case of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the rule will apply to the national men’s, women’s and disabled teams.
Announcing the news on Thursday, the ECB said the order would be put in place immediately, with the aim of introducing it at county level over the next two to three years.
The move is part of the board’s plan to improve engagement with South Asian communities, who contribute 18% of the UK’s cricket economy.
ECB research found that while cricket is overwhelmingly popular with South Asian audiences, with individuals from these communities buying 40% of tickets for the International Champions Trophy, the same fans only make up 3% of domestic ticket sales.
The study – which involved speaking to more than 600 people across the UK – also found that although South Asian participation in recreational cricket is at 30%, a lack of facilities in urban areas remains a barrier.
“We know that the passion South Asian communities have for the game is extraordinary,” said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.
“This passion is matched by our desire to get a bat and ball into more hands, introduce more people to the power of cricket, and show a new generation how to get involved.
“We want cricket to be a game which brings all people and communities together from across the rich spectrum that makes up our society.”
The board announced it would be creating more than 20 new urban cricket centres, developing more than 1,000 pitches by 2024.
It also revealed plans to deliver cricket sessions to 6,000 primary schools in deprived areas and said that it would be awarding bursaries to young South Asian players.
Lord Patel of Bradford, the ECB senior independent director, added: “As a British Asian who grew up playing cricket in the streets and on the pitches of Bradford in the 1960s, I have first-hand experience of the enormous benefits of our sport.
“Cricket gave me the confidence, connections and opportunities to meet new people outside my community, as well as develop life-long friendships.
“The passion South Asian communities in the UK have for cricket remains high but, over 50 years later, there is still so much untapped potential. This plan will help to change that – starting today.”