Ian Watmore steps down as chairman of England Cricket Board

Watmore, who faced criticism for his decision to cancel a tour of Pakistan, resigned after just more than a year in the role.

Ian O'Brien, the deputy chairman of the ECB, will take over in the interim as the board said it would soon begin the process to appoint a new head [Jon Super/AP Photo]

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Thursday that chairman Ian Watmore was stepping down with immediate effect, following criticism of the decision to cancel a tour of Pakistan.

Watmore, 63, has reached a “mutual agreement” with the board to leave his role following the end of the domestic season after a little more than a year in the role. The ECB position is normally held for a five-year term.

He had faced criticism following his decision to scrap the Pakistan trip, involving England’s men’s and women’s teams.

“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.”

Moreover, Whatmore added that he last month retired from the Civil Service Commission after five years and had recently become a grandfather.

“I would now like to retire completely from work and enjoy our great game as a spectator,” he said.

Watmore, formerly the chief executive of the Football Association, started his role as ECB chairman in September 2020 after the retirement of Colin Graves.

Barry O’Brien, the deputy chair of the ECB, will take over in the interim as the board said it would soon begin the process to appoint a new head.

Pakistan controversy

Last month, the ECB cancelled white-ball tours to Pakistan by the men’s and women’s teams due to take place this month, citing “increasing concerns about travelling to the region” and player welfare.

It came just days after New Zealand also pulled out of a tour to the country over security concerns.

Pakistan had accused an unnamed individual in India of sending threatening emails that caused New Zealand to abandon its first cricket tour in Pakistan in 18 years.

The decision to scrap the first trip by an England men’s side to Pakistan since 2005 prompted a furious reaction in the South Asian nation.

Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chairman had lashed out at the “Western bloc” who he said “used and binned” his country in the wake of New Zealand and England cancelling their tours of the South Asian country.

Former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding also criticised the ECB after it decided to cancel the tour of Pakistan, saying it showed “Western arrogance”.

“What that signal sends to me, is the same Western arrogance. I will treat you how I feel like treating you, it doesn’t matter what you think, I’ll just do what I want,” Holding said on Wednesday.

The ECB is meeting this week to decide whether the Ashes, due to start in December, can go ahead – concerns about player welfare and Australia’s strict coronavirus restrictions led to fears the tour may not take place.

But reports suggest there have been positive talks with Cricket Australia.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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