Sports

Sex assault victim calls for cricket abuse inquiry

A man who was sexually assaulted by a former Durham cricket coach as a child has called for an independent inquiry into abuse within the sport.

He said he has received no support from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and wants an investigation similar to football’s Sheldon Report.

‘David’, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was repeatedly abused by former Durham junior coach and scout Michael Strange while he was playing for a local club.

Strange, 62, of Gateshead, has been convicted on four separate occasionsexternal-link over the past decade of sexually abusing young players he coached.

In 2015 he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting David and was sentenced to three years in prison the following year.

He was jailed in 2012 for six years for the abuse of three boys going back to the 1990s.

In 2020 he was given an extra four and a half years behind bars for indecently assaulting another boy and was jailed for an additional 40 months this year for two indecent assaults.

David believes abusers like Strange will have been involved at other clubs elsewhere in the country.

Michael Strange
Strange was jailed for three years for abusing ‘David’

The Football Association (FA) commissioned the independent Sheldon Report into historic sex abuse allegations after former players waived their anonymity to speak out about the abuse they suffered at the hands of coaches Barry Bennell, Bob Higgins and others.

The review was published in 2021 and identified institutional failings at the FA and within clubs, stating that warning signs were missed out of “ignorance and naivety”.

In 2017 the ECB opted against an independent inquiry – independent ECB directors conducted a review instead – and it has not commissioned an independent review specifically focused on Strange.

David said: “I think it would be beneficial (to hold a Sheldon-style review).

“The publicity that could prompt someone to speak out is a better thing than not doing anything at all.”

Durham County Cricket Club have been approached for comment, while the ECB said Strange was permanently disqualified from all cricket activity in 2006 and it does not have details for subsequent offences, which were dealt with by the police.

An ECB spokesperson said: “We are deeply disturbed by the abuse ‘David’ suffered and the impact it has had on him since. No-one should ever have to experience what he did.

“We are working with the statutory agencies to understand a detailed chronology in the intervening years to the extent those agencies are able to share information with us.

“Everyone should feel safe while playing cricket and safeguarding is a priority for the ECB.

“The ECB has executive and board leads for safeguarding and a dedicated safeguarding team which supports the network of trained safeguarding roles at all counties and clubs.

“In addition, a new safeguarding strategy is due to be published shortly which incorporates all of the recommendations from the Sheldon Report, most of which were already implemented or in progress prior to the Sheldon Report being published.”

Anyone with concerns can report them via their club, county safeguarding officer, the ECB Safeguarding teamexternal-link or the NSPCC child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000.

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