Ian Watmore has stepped down from his position as England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman with immediate effect and admitted that the role has taken a “personal toll” on him during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Watmore, who was appointed to the post on December 1 2020 replacing the previous chairman Colin Graves, has mutually agreed with the ECB Board to step down.
After his resignation, ECB deputy chair, Barry O’Brien will serve as the interim chairman.
“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,” he added.
“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,” Watmore further expressed.
Recently, the ECB Board’s decision to cancel the short tour of Pakistan this month was roundly criticised with Watmore at the centre of it.
Moreover, Watmore lacked a clear explanation for the decision which further worsened his situation.
“I’m very sorry to anyone who feels hurt or let down by our decision, particularly in Pakistan. The decision the board made was an extremely difficult one and the board made it with the primary consideration being the welfare and mental health of our players and staff. The board took the decision based on its own judgments and it didn’t go out to consultation. Had we decided to go forward with the tour we’d have had to put the proposals to the players, but it didn’t reach that,” Watmore was quoted as saying by Mirror after cancelling the Pakistan tour.
“We’ve recommitted to a proper tour, a scheduled tour, of Pakistan next year and will get on with planning that. We will have longer to plan that trip. I don’t know if you read President Biden’s mind, but I didn’t know he was going to evacuate Afghanistan or that New Zealand would pull out of their tour while effectively warming up on the pitch,” he had added.
On the other hand, after being asked to serve as the interim chairman, 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.”