Sports

The Ashes: Rishi Sunak Speaks Of 'Sting' Of Racism Growing Up In UK

Sunak, during an interview with BBC, said that though he has never personally seen racial exploitation in cricket, he has experienced it growing up, and hoped that ECB was taking measures to curb unsavoury instances to make the sport better.

Sunak pictured attending Day 4 of the 2nd Ashes Test at Lord's in London.
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Rishi Sunak, Britain's first Indian-origin Prime Minister, has spoken of the "sting" of racism that he experienced growing up in the UK during a special appearance at the England versus Australia Ashes Test match at Lord's Cricket Ground in London. (More Cricket News)

The 43-year-old cricket lover was interviewed on the BBC’s iconic 'Test Match Special' (TMS) radio show on the fourth day of the second Ashes Test on Saturday when he was asked about a recent independent report which found "widespread and deep-rooted” racism, sexism, elitism and class-based bias at all levels of cricket and prompted an unreserved apology by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

"I haven’t experienced that in cricket, but of course I've experienced racism growing up," said Sunak, in response to a question by BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.

"It stings you in a way that very few other things do. I'm in a job where I take criticism on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. But racism, it stings you, it does hurt," he said.

Sunak said the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report had been “hard to read” and “really sad” for cricket lovers like him.

"All of us who love this game want it to be inclusive, open, accessible to absolutely everybody, to welcome people from all backgrounds and for it to be a place where everyone can feel respected and supported,” he said. 

The Prime Minister went on to say that he was “confident” that the ECB was responding to its conclusions in the right way and referenced his milestone as the country's first British Indian Prime Minister as “incredible progress” in tackling racism.

"One thing I take comfort from is that I think the things that happened to me when I was a kid, I don’t think they would happen to my kids today,” he added.

Born in Southampton in Hampshire on the South-Eeastern coast of England, Sunak revealed how he fell in love with cricket watching Hampshire County games in his home city.

During an India Global Forum UK-India Week reception he hosted in the garden of 10 Downing Street last week, Sunak joked about his bowling action as he expressed his excitement about India hosting the Cricket World Cup in October.

"I can tell you today that England is taking the prospect of playing India very seriously… they’ve even overcome a specially chosen British Indian bowling attack, but sadly that was me, here in this garden,” he said, evoking much laughter from the gathering.

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