Monty Panesar says young cricketers do not receive ‘equal opportunities’

Former England spinner Monty Panesar has said children from minority ethnic backgrounds do not "feel a career as a professional cricketer is open to them", amid the sport's ongoing racism scandal.

Middlesex chief Mike O'Farrell has been criticised for comments he made at a DCMS select committee hearing on Tuesday, where he claimed football and rugby is "much more attractive to the Afro-Caribbean community" and the "south Asian community prefer to go into other educational fields, and then cricket becomes secondary".

O'Farrell has since apologised for "the misunderstanding that my comments made at this morning’s DCMS Select Committee hearing have evidently caused".

In a column for the Telegraph, Panesar, who works with Middlesex in an inner-city scouting role, called for "practical changes to the infrastructure of the game".

He wrote: "Mike O'Farrell's comments about young Asian and black cricketers in front of the parliamentary committee on Tuesday were depressing and annoying, but underline just why there is such a lack of faith among members of my community – British Asians – in the people who run the English game.

"As it stands not enough members of these communities currently feel a career as a professional cricketer is open to them.

"Ultimately, Asian and black kids don't want to talk or even think about racism and diversity issues within cricket – they simply want to play the sport they love. It is for the people in power of every county – CEOs, presidents, chairmen and coaches – to provide the opportunities.

"Words and public statements have to be informed and sensitive, but far more important are the practical changes to the infrastructure of the game.

"Every youngster should have an equal opportunity to become a professional cricketer. At the moment, that is not the case: until it changes, the issues we have seen dog the sport in recent months will not go away."

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