The new chair of Cricket Scotland has stated his determination to eradicate racism from the sport and will start by recruiting a team to rebuild the organisation.
The entire board of the sport’s governing body resigned after a damning report found serious institutional failings and detailed 448 examples of institutional racism.
After what has been described as a “rigorous” selection process, chaired by Sportscotland, technology entrepreneur and businessman Anjan Luthra has been appointed as the new chair of the organisation and tasked with restoring the image of the sport and addressing the many recommendations that came from the independent review.
Luthra, who represented Scotland playing cricket at Under 15, 17 and 19s, says he is committed to driving through change.
“There’s no denying there are some key institutional problems here,” he told STV. “The key priority for me is to implement everything that has been outlined in the report with intense speed.”
The new chair acknowledged the scathing criticism in the report and the impact of the racism it detailed.
“It was traumatic for a number of individuals,” he said. “It was horrible and it should never have happened. I was angry and upset and really frustrated by it. It’s a real problem.
“But I’m a problem solver and all problems can be solved with the right level of work ethic, skill, acumen and intensity.
“If we put our mind to it, which we will, and we have the right people involved and we listen and we do the right things then we will rebuild this organisation.”
The independent report detailed failings at different levels of the sport and Luthra accepted that his job would be to affect a cultural change. He said that would be done by taking action not only at the head of the organisation but at grassroots level.
“It is achievable,” he said. “Not every society and culture has this problem so there’s no reason for this to exist and no reason for us to accept it.
“We’re going to go head on and start tackling it right from the grassroots level. It’s not just going to be some high-level decisions, we’re going to get stuck in, listen to people, empathise with everyone and understand the problems.
“That’s the fundamental thing to do first. Then we’re going to move quickly to solve those problems.
“We’re going to increase our transparency and communicate better with all stakeholders involved.”
The chair said that his first business will be to conduct interviews to appoint a new board of directors for Cricket Scotland, and then begin a process to appoint a new chief executive.
On the day that Luthra was introduced, interim chief executive Gordon Arthur met with former Scotland internationals Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh, the whistleblowers whose complaints prompted the review.
Haq, a former Ferguslie teammate of Luthra, said that the appointment gave him hope that there could be genuine change in the sport.
He said: “It’s one of the first days I have been quite positive about Scottish cricket for a long, long time. I hope he can carry the hope forward over the next couple of years and I’m pretty confident he can.
“He is young, very ambitious and has done a lot in his life already. He comes from a good family, has good morals, and is extremely competitive and will want the best.
“He will aim for the top and that’s what we need in Scottish cricket because there is a lot of potential there.”
Sheikh echoed those comments and said that he had found talks with Arthur to be productive.
“We discussed the fact that, as much as this is a dark moment, it could be a great opportunity to lead the way in Scottish sport when it comes to institutional racism,” he said.
“Another reason why I am excited about Anjan’s appointment, he has good business acumen, has good contacts. There is opportunity to go to other corporate people and businesses who might be interested in getting involved.
“The Scottish women’s team don’t have any contracted players. There needs to be funding to support equality in that space as well.”
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represents the two players, said that discussions with the interim CEO had also covered the 68 individual complaints made to Plan4Sport, who conducted the review and compiled the report. Anwar said that there was still work to be done but that he welcome plans to set up a new panel to oversee conduct in cricket.
“We expressed significant concerns on the robustness of investigation being carried out, they must have access to all the evidence from Plan4Sport,” he said.
“Importantly Gordon advised that Plan4Sport is still taking complaints and the door remains open.”
“[The panel] is an important step in assuring consistency in discipline, equality and eradicating the old boy’s network”.
But he added: “It is clear that Cricket Scotland remains hugely under-resourced and it is for Sportscotland to wake up to this, the massive hole in cricket funding needs resolved, if the promises made to the victims of racism are not betrayed.”
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