Ian Watmore is to step down from his position as ECB chairman with immediate effect admitting that the role has taken a “personal toll” on him during the pandemic.
Watmore formally took over the job on December 1 2020, replacing the previous chairman Colin Graves, but has mutually agreed with the ECB Board to step down a little over ten months into a five-year term citing his own well-being and “that of the game which I love”. Current ECB deputy chair, Barry O’Brien, will step-up as interim chair.
“It is with regret that I step down as chair of the ECB, but I do so in mindfulness of my own wellbeing and that of the game which I love,” said Watmore. “I was appointed to the post in a pre-pandemic era, but Covid has meant the role and its demands on time are dramatically different to all our original expectations, which has taken a personal toll on me.
“Given this, the Board and I feel the ECB will be better served by a new Chair to take it forward post pandemic. Leaving now, at the end of the season, gives the Board time to find a new Chair to support cricket through the challenges of the 2022 season and beyond.
“On a personal level, I also retired last month after five years at the Civil Service Commission and recently became a grandfather. I would now like to retire completely from work and enjoy our great game as a spectator.”
It was an unhappy final few weeks in the role for Watmore after the ECB Board’s decision to cancel the T20 tour of Pakistan this month was roundly criticised. The lack of a clear explanation for the decision from Watmore and the chief executive Tom Harrison made matters worse. One of the first jobs for the new ECB chair will be to rebuild relations with the Pakistan Cricket Board.
The ECB will begin the search for a successor as soon as possible although there is at present no fixed timeline as to when a formal appointment will be made. O’Brien said: “We will shortly begin a process to appoint a new Chair to lead the ECB, as the organisation continues to deliver on its ambitions to grow the game and create an increasingly inclusive and welcoming sport for all.”