The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today announced a major new joint initiative with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to promote diversity within cricket.

The scheme aims to encourage more women, girls, and black and ethnic minority participants to take up cricket and to improve access to grounds for disabled people.

It is being funded by the EHRC to the sum of £450,000 as part of a wider Sports Inclusion programme which is also being rolled out across other major team sports including rugby union.

Key targets for cricket as part of the programme include:

· Recruiting 450 new coaches from black and ethnic minority communities who will be given ongoing mentoring for two years

· Providing 175 coaches and mentors to improve the experience of women and girls in cricket

· Offering 2,000 members of the South Asian community the opportunity to play indoor cricket

· Creating opportunities for 7,500 women and girls to play cricket across 1,000 cricket clubs nationwide

· Training 700 people in understanding the values and behaviours of women and girls in sport

· Conducting accessibility audits for disabled access at 16 First Class County grounds

Chris Holmes, Disability Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and former champion Paralympic swimmer, said: “Cricket is a fantastic way of bringing people together whatever their backgrounds and providing great health benefits. Everyone should have the same opportunity to get involved in the game regardless of their ability, gender or social background.

“Big and small clubs are uniquely placed to help tackle inequality in sports due to their links into local communities. Sport inspires young people, and not just with dreams of becoming an athlete; it can influence how they approach everyday decisions and equip them with life-changing skills.”

The Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch MP, said: "This is a fantastic initiative that will encourage thousands more women to participate in cricket and increase the number of coaches from ethnic minority backgrounds to help grow the game at the grassroots.

“I am delighted that the funding will also improve accessibility and the match-day experience for disabled supporters at cricket grounds across the country. It's a great partnership between the ECB and EHRC and I wish it every success."

ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said: “Cricket is an inclusive sport and today’s announcement provides us with a fantastic opportunity to encourage even more people to take up the game.

“The additional funding from EHRC will help us to do more to tap into the enthusiasm for cricket within South Asian communities, who make up nearly one third of our overall participation base.

“Thousands of women and girls have also been drawn into cricket over the past decade with nearly 600 clubs nationwide now offering access to the game and it’s important we invest in further coaching and training to accelerate this still further.”