England and Wales Cricket Board to invest £2m to encourage diversity

The England and Wales Cricket Board will invest £2m in programmes designed to encourage participation from ethnically diverse communities, state schools and people with disabilities.

The money is part of the governing body's response to a report that said discrimination was "widespread" in English and Welsh cricket.

The ECB hopes to "address some of the challenges" highlighted in the report.

"We have to break down barriers," said chief executive Richard Gould.

The money will be split across five charities - the African Caribbean Engagement Programme (ACE), the South Asian Cricket Academy (SACA), the MCC Foundation, Chance to Shine and Lord's Taverners.

The MCC Foundation, ACE and SACA focus on providing talent pathways for state school, black and British South Asian cricketers, who are under-represented in the game.

Chance to Shine and Lord's Taverners also aim to provide more opportunities to state school pupils, with a focus on children from underserved communities, students with special education needs and those who qualify for free school meals.

"If we are to realise our ambition of making cricket the most inclusive sport, we have to break down barriers which have stopped children and young people from state schools and ethnically diverse backgrounds realising their potential. These five charity partnerships are focused on doing just that," said Gould.

"These partners all have a proven track record, and by backing their expertise we can give many more children the chance to play and to reach their potential."

The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) delivered its findings in June following a two-year investigation.

In a damning 317-page report called Holding Up A Mirror To Cricket, the ICEC concluded that racism, sexism, classism and elitism are "widespread" in the game.

It made 44 recommendations, including that the ECB makes an unreserved public apology for its failings.

Chair Richard Thompson said the ECB would use that moment to "reset cricket".