The Changing Room series

At Royal London, we’re dedicated to levelling the playing field across sport and wider society. We believe the way to do this is by giving people a voice and platform to tell their stories and working together to drive change. 

The Changing Room series is here to bring you the conversations that matter. From the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground changing room in London, we'll connect players from all walks of cricket, from professionals to grassroots. They’ll share their stories, speak about the challenges they face, and the work being done, and discuss how we can keep making progress on important issues like discrimination and women’s equality.

The first episode of The Changing Room is out now. 

Hear from Professional England Men's Cricketer Chris Jordan, Former England Player and President of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club David Lawrence, and the ACE Programme’s Dylan Young about their experiences of racial discrimination and the change happening across the game to tackle it. 

Episode 1

David Lawrence: If I had a problem as a cricketer, I want to be able to talk to someone of colour who understands what I’m saying.

Caption: Royal London, in partnership with the ECB, are dedicated to levelling the playing field in cricket, creating opportunities to have honest conversations to drive change.

The Changing Room – having the conversations that matter. We discuss personal experiences and the change needed to tackle racial discrimination in cricket.

Chris Jordan: Welcome to Lord’s, nice day for it eh?

Dylan Young: Yeah, great day.

David: Definitely a batting day not a bowling day.           

Chris: Shall we go up to the changing room?

David: Yes.

David: 1988 was the year that, you know, my dream came true. Got the opportunity to play for England after a long time believing I could do it. As a 17-year-old boy my first game for Gloucestershire, an away trip, I remember I’m sitting in my room and then somebody knocking on my door. I opened the door and there was a bunch of bananas out there. For me, that was, you know what that hurt me so much. I couldn’t even tell my mum, you know, I sat in my room crying. You’re talking about my own teammates. I didn’t confront them and that’s what really hurt me.

Chris: My biggest thing I’ve come across that was actually, what was it, maybe six months ago in the World Cup semi-final, and obviously it didn’t quite go our way. And on social media it was relentless for me. Twitter, Instagram, lots of comments under my pictures or in my direct messages and stuff, because we had lost the World Cup game, you know, and people kind of felt like I had a big part to do with that as well.

Chris: From my point of view, us as an England team, we’re probably as diverse as they come in terms of a team, and I know for sure that I’ve made like some very, almost lifelong friends in that dressing room. And that’s well led by people like Eoin Morgan and Joe Root because obviously our dressing room is one of the most diverse.

David: I want to see more change off the field, within all these corporations, there’s got to be more of a representation of people of colour. So, if I had a problem as a cricketer, I want to be able to talk to someone of colour who understands what I’m saying. For me this year I’m the first black president for Gloucestershire. But I said, you know what, you’ve got to start from somewhere. You have to. And if we keep saying no, then where do we start?

Chris: The real change will come from within. Having real conversations. Some people just don’t know, so it’s about continuing that education. As you said you should be proud of yourself and hopefully you can really make a difference.

David: Yeah and hopefully in five, ten years’ time we don’t have to have programmes like this, we don’t have to make TV programmes, because it’s the norm. There’s not enough black coaches, there’s not enough black umpires – why is that pathway so difficult? I want to see you, with all your experience as a one day cricketer in five years’ time being the next one day coach.

Chris: Maybe a bit longer [laughter], you’re retiring me too early man.

Caption: The ACE Programme Charity was originally set up by Surrey County Cricket Club in 2020, aiming to address the 75% decline in cricket participation by members of the Black community.

Chris: As far as things that can continue, things like the ACE Programme I think is a brilliant start. It can keep giving younger kids some hope, and I know for a fact that having been on the other side in the England dressing room, I know the type of conversations we’re having, I know the type of efforts that are being made by the captains especially to be more inclusive, to be more proactive, in the community especially, trying to get more people involved.

Chris: Being a part of the ACE Programme, I’d love to hear a perspective on how ACE has helped you and the sort of path that it’s going on.

Dylan: I had already been within Gloucestershire setup, playing in the youth cricket, but obviously that kind of faded out and I was thinking of stopping cricket altogether to be fair. And then I was chosen to get further into the actual ACE Programme and become a scholar. I feel like ACE has given the youth kind of a voice really, given them an opportunity to get the proper training, good facilities, and obviously constant matches.

So, yeah, ACE stands for Afro Caribbean Engagement, which is focusing on giving opportunity to those within the local cricket world. A place where they can focus and hone their own skills. Changes within the coaching staff, in their mentality, and seeing actually getting to know each player as it is, giving them opportunities to then grow and obviously find their footing within the team. I feel like that needs to change before we see more black cricketers developing.

David: Yeah and the key to all of that is that the ECB need to get more programmes to employ more black coaches.

Dylan: Yes.

Chris: Definitely been a pleasure meeting you both, hearing two slightly different perspectives. Obviously I grew up in the Caribbean and then I came over, so had a slightly different path but this is very moving for me today and definitely will spur me on to keep going so pleasure meeting you both.

Caption: In 2021, cricket came together to devise an action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion across the game.

Important improvements have already been taken, including:

  • Improvement in the handling of discrimination allegations
  • More opportunities for young players from black communities
  • Coaching bursaries for under-represented groups
  • Breaking down financial barriers to help more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds reach the top

Cricket is committed to listening to and learning from anyone who has experienced discrimination, to continue raising the game and create meaningful and lost-lasting change.

To report any discrimination, go to ecb.co.uk/reporting-discrimination

Watch out for our next Changing Room episode, coming soon at royallondon.com/cricket

ACE Programme partnership

We’re proud of our partnership with the ACE Programme and committed to levelling the playing across all levels of the game.

The ACE Programme Charity was originally setup by Surrey County Cricket Club in 2020, aiming to address the 75% decline in professional Black British players. After securing significant funding from Sport England, it's become an independent charity, chaired by former Surrey and England player Ebony Rainford-Brent. In 2021 we helped ACE expand into Bristol and we're delighted to continue our support of the programme.

 

Surprising future talent

We asked England and Essex cricket legends, Nasser Hussain and Graham Gooch, to surprise Upminster Cricket Club’s under 9s at a training session at the end of the 2020 season. After a particularly tough year, we wanted to treat the rising stars of the game and provide some special motivation for keeping up their practice.

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