Normally I would only write about people I have met or who have inspired my game. Today I make an exception in the most positive way. That exception is Ebony Rainford-Brent. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Ebony due to her media commitments, although we’ve exchanged numerous emails on the topic of ACE and our vision for diversity outreach. The African Caribbean Engagement programme (ACE) launched in March 2020 by Surrey County Cricket and the African Caribbean Cricket Association had it’s momentum unfortunately curtailed by COVID-19. However, in July and August they were able to train and play some matches at the Oval which I was lucky enough to witness.
In the emails we shared, what shone through was passion, knowledge and an openness to discuss a very important sub-topic of Cricket. Following those email exchanges I undertook some online research and spoke with people at the Change Foundation who have a deeper relationship with Ebony. The feeling was unanimous, Ebony is genuinely a fantastic person with a mission to amplify women’s and Afro Caribbean cricket in the UK.
My admiration for Ebony went into overdrive after watching the video with Michael Holding discussing their personal encounters with racism in cricket. I could seriously empathise with some of the commentary as I had similar experiences when playing as a teen for the borough of Merton.
Here is an extract of Ebony’s words from that video:
“For it to hit me that I was the first [black woman to play for England], I felt a mixture of emotions. Proud on one hand, but also a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable. It took me a long time to really feel comfortable owning that because I wanted there to be more, I didn’t want to be the only one. It’s something I still feel a little bit plagued by”.
Compelling words from a woman I’ve come to admire and respect, all without meeting her (hint hint).
My message to Ebony and to anyone who has suffered racial discrimination, it’s about breaking barriers of silence and forcing accountability. I salute you Ebony.