ESSEX are “confident” of no further sanctions despite the England and Wales Cricket Board saying the county had fallen “significantly short” of targets to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity.

The ECB had announced on Tuesday that Essex were placed in a “non-compliance process” for failing to produce a clear timetable to deliver the changes asked of them in an action plan produced last year.

The ECB called for counties to meet diversity quotas of 30 per cent female representation and a “locally representative ethnicity” figure on boards by the end of April this year.

The action plan was part of the ECB’s response to Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to MPs in November 2021 about the racism he suffered during his time as a player at Yorkshire.

In its latest update on progress of the plan, the ECB confirmed Essex were the only one of the 18 first-class counties to have either not met targets or produced satisfactory plans to do so.

However, Essex chief executive and interim chair John Stephenson said: “The club continue to make great strides in creating a board which represents the diverse communities we serve as Essex Cricket.

“We have had to overcome many obstacles to date, but I am pleased with the progress we are making and the plans in place to implement a positive change.

“The ECB issued the club with a formal letter regarding non-compliance and this forms part of the process in driving change.

“We are taking the whole process very seriously and it was disappointing that the club were singled out from the nine other county organisations who also don’t currently comply.

“I am in constant dialogue with the ECB regarding our progress and they completely support everything we are doing to address the issues they raised. We are undergoing an action plan to address board diversity, which forms part of an ongoing process to apply changes.

“I can assure our members, supporters, commercial partners and other stakeholders that plans to drive compliance will be implemented in time to meet the ECB deadlines and we are confident that no further sanctions will be taken against the club.”

Essex were fined £50,000 earlier this year following an investigation into allegedly racist language used by former chair John Faragher during a board meeting in 2017.

Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Kent, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey, Worcestershire and Yorkshire have all met their requirements.

Hampshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Sussex and Warwickshire have been granted additional time on a “comply or explain” basis having made positive progress but been unable to meet the deadline for “genuine practical or constitutional reasons”.

An ECB statement read: “The ECB has placed one organisation, Essex County Cricket Club, in a non-compliance process as they have fallen significantly short of their targets and do not yet have a clear action plan to deliver change within an appropriate timescale.

“As part of this process, Essex CCC must provide an updated action plan for approval by the ECB and sanctions may be considered if sufficient progress is not made within agreed deadlines.”