Cricket’s international governing body has strengthened its rules to protect women by blocking men from participating in women’s international matches.
Since 2021, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has allowed men to play in women’s matches on the basis of testosterone levels. But following a nine-month consultation, the ICC has decided to bar players who have experienced male puberty “regardless of any surgery or gender reassignment treatment they may have undertaken”.
The regulations, which will be reviewed within two years, were based, in order of priority, on the principles of “protection of the integrity of the women’s game, safety, fairness and inclusion”.
Geoff Allardice, Chief Executive Officer of the ICC, said: “The changes to the gender eligibility regulations resulted from an extensive consultation process and is founded in science and aligned with the core principles developed during the review.
“Inclusivity is incredibly important to us as a sport, but our priority was to protect the integrity of the international women’s game and the safety of players.”
Women’s Rights Network’s Jane Sullivan welcomed the “long overdue” decision, and called on national bodies such as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to follow suit.
Sullivan said: “The current ECB rules are killing the grassroots game. We know of women and girls turning up to games and finding out that men who identify as women are on the opposing team. The coaches are powerless to protect the women and girls because the ECB rules say it’s okay for males to be on the team.
“Parents are rightly concerned about the injury risk to their daughters, to say nothing of the safeguarding issues when trans-identifying males decide to use the women’s changing rooms.”
Currently, the ECB allow men who identify as female to compete in elite women’s matches on a case-by-case basis.
An ECB spokesperson stated: “We continue to review our transgender policy, considering inclusivity, safety and fairness, and will consider these new ICC regulations as part of this work.”
Earlier this year, parents and coaches were outraged after a middle-aged man who claims to be a woman was allowed to compete in club cricket matches against girls as young as twelve.
Several parents threatened to withdraw their daughters from the league, while one first-class county said it had pressed for concrete changes to the policy for three years, only to be referred to literature from the controversial LGBT lobby group Stonewall.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel, a keen cricket fan, called the ECB’s policy “shameful”, saying: “The safety of women and girls should NEVER be compromised.”