Rainford-Brent: There’s no diversity in women’s cricket in England

Women’s cricket needs better visibility to extend its outreach, says the former cricketer.

The England women’s cricket team celebrates during its tour of India in March, 2019.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Ebony Rainford-Brent, the first black woman to play cricket for England, feels women’s cricket lacks diversity compared to football, which has stronger representation from people of colour.

Rainford-Brent, one of only four Black, Asian and minority ethnic women to have played for England, is also Surrey’s director of women’s cricket and has launched a scholarship programme to increase minority participation. Surrey initially created 12 scholarships but doubled the number because of the level of interest. Isa Guha, Sonia Odedra and Sophia Dunkley are the other BAME women to have played for England.

“We have to look at the pipeline - are any players coming through?” the former cricketer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“When I listen to football with all its problems, I’m still very jealous of the sport because we see representation,” said Rainford-Brent.

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“I think the mass level of it means it has a lot of issues that get thrashed out in the media. There is no diversity in women’s cricket, really.”

‘A game for everyone’

The death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer has triggered global outrage against racism in society. The England and Wales Cricket Board announced a major investment in 2019 as part of its five-year plan to increase participation of players of colour.

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“We passionately believe cricket at all levels is a game for everyone,” an ECB spokesperson was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“There is a lot more to do to help and support women from a range of different backgrounds to play and enjoy the game.”

Rainford-Brent said women’s cricket needs better visibility to extend its outreach. “We as a sport are disconnected from inner cities - that’s not just a black issue, that has socio-economic implications. We, as a sport, have a lot of work to do,” she said.

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