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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Cricket, Diversity, Recruitment, and Inclusion

What a summer it’s been for cricket!

I never imagined writing a LinkedIn article with that opening line! The reason for this is that I believe the launch of the inaugural 100 format has been transformational and it strikes me there is much to learn for companies and recruiters with respect to the success of this new format.

Cricket is part of the English psyche

It defines our history and even now we still use the phrase, ‘it’s just not cricket’ to comment on someone not playing by the rules of a game. We took the sport across the world, mourned when Australia beat us for the first time at The Oval in 1882 and stated that ‘The body will be cremated, and the ashes taken to Australia.’ Oh, the drama and heartbreak!

Photo Mohammed Al Emran

What we saw was a change in tradition and culture

India, Pakistan, the West Indies, and other teams all brought something different to the game and have helped to keep it alive. After all, without this injection of flair and passion would cricket have survived this long? Just a question. However, its popularity has been waning. Who has the time to watch a long cricket match? Who can stay awake watching countless defensive shots? Compare how football is marketed and you can see it really was time for an overhaul. That’s exactly what was served up in the summer of 2021.

Cricket is played by complex and idiosyncratic rules

The English Cricket Board probably have the ultimate right to say, ‘Look, it’s always been done like this.’ However, not anymore. They had to face the fact that County cricket is no longer part of the nation’s psyche, and the audience is aging. So how do you make it appeal to a new generation? How do you relight its fire and help it become the diverse and inclusive game it should be to reflect twenty first century tastes and perspectives? You change its format. The spirit is there but you put gold cricket pads on the ‘Batters’ (not batsmen), you include live music, a sense of fun and a quick, highly exciting and entertaining format.

Photo: Jarek Jordan

What happens?

It has drama and spectacle, appeal across the whole population and it’s fun. Matches last a maximum of two and a half hours and there are 100 balls bowled per team. Done and dusted. The ECB has defended its strategy to all comers saying

We want to grow the sport to be seen not just as a male sport and demystify it.’

Their aim was and is to nurture new fans (another word for paying customers, of course) . They’ve thrown every type of marketing and contemporary sensibilities to the job. The whole match is pure entertainment. The audience mimics the umpire’s gesticulations. People cheer, dance, sing shout and use an app to follow their team’s progress. They have an interval and listen to music but more importantly the men and women’s games are played on the same day. What’s happened? The women’s game has had unprecedented coverage and its popularity has soared. Audiences are diverse and the whole culture feels more inclusive, less exclusive and is actually a format fit for contemporary life.

You could say ‘it’s not cricket as we know it.’

Photo: Yogendra Singh

You might be right, but it has injected fun and vitality to something that was slowly sliding into a genteel anachronism. It is irreverent but shows great love and passion for the game. Essentially a bowler tries to get a batter out. A batter meanwhile has a set number of balls to grab the most runs possible. It’s essentially the same but with bells and whistles.

So, the 100 format got me thinking

I recruit and I know there is a push for boards to become more inclusive and diverse. However, it is not enough to employ a woman or an ethnically diverse CEO and hope that will do the trick – the box is ticked. It’s about the culture in the whole organisation that will dictate success or failure. If your corridors are filled with portraits of dead white men or your pictures represent dubious references to past historical battles or the statues in your hallway depict people whose links included slavery, how is that going to make a newcomer feel included and /or valued? Are these the right marketing messages to communicate that you value newcomers and are truly inclusive. Women who first started in all male companies remember that for some there was not even a designated cloakroom available.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng recently commented:

‘As we look to build back better from the pandemic, it’s important that businesses keep challenging themselves to use all the talents of our workforce and open up the top ranks for more, highly-accomplished women.

The number of ‘One & Done’ boards – with only one woman – has fallen from 116 in 2015 to just 16. Moving forward, all businesses should be pushing themselves to move beyond tokenism, and ensure even more women are getting into the highest ranks.’

I apologise if I am sounding glib in any respect, that is definitely not my aim

Recruitment is not the same as cricket, but I felt the changes seen this summer reflect the radical repackaging of an historic tradition. We are well advised NOT to say, ‘but we have always done things this way.’ It’s no longer appropriate. There are many different perspectives in this highly connected world, and we have to be aware of the change in sensibilities.

As Ian Botham once said:

The field is completely wrong. The fine leg is up and a man is put into deep at short wide long off. What is going on?’

We took this to heart and at Meyrick Consulting, we always create and design our promotional materials for new roles to reflect a transparent and inclusive approach. We work with some of the most diverse companies globally and feel in a good place to help any organisation that is struggling to recruit in a diverse and inclusive fashion. You’ve seen the success the ECB has experienced so if you want to transform your executive leadership team then do give us a call.


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