Wat­more ral­lies coun­ties

➤ Wat­more wants to build on tra­di­tion in do­mes­tic cricket ➤ ‘In­clu­sive’ tar­get to in­clude im­prove­ment of board di­ver­sity

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Nick Hoult CHIEF CRICKET CORRESPOND­ENT

Eng­land’s coun­ties have been re­as­sured that they have a fu­ture as full-time clubs de­spite the fi­nan­cial cri­sis caused by Covid-19. The mes­sage came from Ian Wat­more as he started his ten­ure as chair­man of the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board and also voiced his full sup­port for the Hun­dred and mul­ti­ple forms of cricket.

Ian Wat­more started his ten­ure as chair­man of the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board by re­as­sur­ing the coun­ties they have a fu­ture as full­time clubs de­spite the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of £100mil­lion losses this sum­mer.

Colin Graves, Wat­more’s pre­de­ces­sor, told The Daily Tele­graph in his fi­nal news­pa­per in­ter­view as chair­man that he ex­pected some coun­ties to go part-time, play­ing only white-ball cricket pro­fes­sion­ally. But Wat­more struck a more con­cil­ia­tory tone on his first day in the job, reach­ing out to the coun­ties while also con­firm­ing his com­mit­ment to the Hun­dred.

Wat­more also ad­mit­ted the ECB had to im­prove the di­ver­sity of its board af­ter Lord Pa­tel, the deputy chair­man, stood down yes­ter­day. The re­main­ing mem­bers and new ap­point­ments by Wat­more, which in­clude Sir An­drew Strauss in a non-vot­ing role, are all white.

He also con­firmed his de­sire to ar­range a tour of Pak­istan when safety con­cerns had been al­layed, fol­low­ing Pak­istan’s own visit to Eng­land this sum­mer amid the tur­moil of the Covid pan­demic. “With Pak­istan back host­ing cricket we should def­i­nitely go and tour there if it’s at all safe to do so,” he said.

Wat­more says his style of lead­er­ship will be “in­clu­sive, consultati­ve and col­lab­o­ra­tive”, in­ten­tions that will be wel­comed by some coun­ties and their mem­bers, who be­lieved that un­der Graves the ECB was in­ter­ested only in its own pet project, the Hun­dred, to the detri­ment of tra­di­tional for­mats of the game.

“My view is there’s a place for all coun­ties. There’s a long his­tory of tra­di­tion we need to build upon and re­tain,” Wat­more said. “Coun­ties should be as­pir­ing to play­ing all forms of cricket, de­vel­op­ing Eng­land play­ers of the fu­ture; po­ten­tially, each of them hav­ing a nu­anced, lo­calised strat­egy.

“Some will be the big Test match providers, oth­ers might be the re­gional hub for tal­ent. Each county can play its part in the fu­ture of English cricket, in ad­di­tion to play­ing in the core tour­na­ments.

“If the eco­nomics and per­for­mance stan­dards don’t al­low that over time, or in­di­vid­ual coun­ties de­cide they want to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, that’s a con­ver­sa­tion, but it’s not where I’m com­ing from.”

Un­der Graves, some of the coun­ties felt threat­ened by the Hun­dred, and Wat­more is keen to im­prove re­la­tions. His first board meet­ing will be held next week at Edg­bas­ton, not Lord’s, and he has in­vited the chair­men of War­wick­shire and Worces­ter­shire.

Wat­more is com­mit­ted to the ECB’s In­spir­ing Gen­er­a­tions strat­egy, which aims to in­crease grass­roots par­tic­i­pa­tion across Asian and eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties and among women and girls, us­ing the £1.1 bil­lion broad­cast deal to fund it.

But he told ECB staff in a con­fer­ence call yes­ter­day there would be cuts at the gov­ern­ing body and be­yond. Tom Har­ri­son, the ECB’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, is lead­ing a re­view into spend­ing and po­ten­tial cuts. Graves wanted to move the ECB from its ex­pen­sive of­fices at Lord’s and slim down the Lough­bor­ough academy, and Wat­more has hinted at more work­ing out­side Lon­don.

“I am ex­pect­ing there will be re­duc­tions in the size of the ECB staff. It is in­evitable, I think, given the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion we are in,” he said.

Wat­more be­lieves that the Hun­dred re­mains an op­por­tu­nity to reach a new au­di­ence, with eight matches to be shown on the BBC, and that it will be par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for rais­ing the pro­file of women’s cricket.

‘With Pak­istan back host­ing cricket, we should def­i­nitely tour there if it is safe to’

The ECB was re­cently ac­cused of turn­ing its back on the black com­mu­nity with Lons­dale Skin­ner, chair­man of the African Caribbean Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion, say­ing he felt his com­mu­nity had been “de­lib­er­ately ex­cluded” by the board. The ECB said it would “ur­gently ad­dress” the lack of black crick­eters. Wat­more will look to in­crease di­ver­sity on the board and among those mak­ing lead­er­ship de­ci­sions.

Wat­more pub­lished a blog on the ECB web­site yes­ter­day ad­mit­ting the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment had shone a “very un­com­fort­able” light on “some struc­tural and cul­tural weak­nesses, as well as repug­nant be­hav­iours from some within the game and so­ci­ety at large”, af­ter a string of black crick­eters shared sto­ries of racism in the sport.

“It’s quite clear we do not have the di­ver­sity of board we need,” he said. “We are very strong with our gen­der bal­ance but it could still be bet­ter, but our eth­nic­ity and other at­tributes are not right. If a gov­ern­ing body is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the so­ci­ety it is try­ing to serve, it is not go­ing to be an ef­fec­tive leader. That is some­thing we need to de­velop.”

Re­view: Ian Wat­more ex­pects there to be staff cuts at the ECB

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.