Daily Mail

OUR ALL-WHITE BOARD IS NOT AC­CEPT­ABLE, SAYS ECB CHIEF

- by LAWRENCE BOOTH Wis­den Edi­tor

IAN WATMORE, the new head of English cricket, has crit­i­cised the ECB board for be­ing ‘all white’ and says the 12- strong com­mit­tee can­not lead the game ef­fec­tively without more diversity.

Watmore be­gan his reign as ECB chair­man yes­ter­day after re­plac­ing Colin Graves, but the re­tire­ment as deputy chair of Lord Kam­lesh Pa­tel leaves him with an im­me­di­ate chal­lenge in a year when the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment has shone a light on the racial make-up of board­rooms across all walks of life.

‘It’s quite clear that we do not have the diversity of board that we need,’ said Watmore, 62, a for­mer se­nior civil ser­vant and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the FA.

‘With Kam­lesh step­ping down, we re­vert to be­ing an all-white board and that’s not ac­cept­able in the long run. I very much want to have a di­verse, in­clu­sive board at the top of English cricket, but also right through English cricket.

‘If a sport’s gov­ern­ing body is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the so­ci­ety it’s try­ing to serve, then it isn’t go­ing to be an ef­fec­tive leader.’ Watmore’s ad­mis­sion fol­lows re­marks made by ECB chief ex­ec­u­tive Tom Har­ri­son in July, when he said the BLM move­ment had forced cricket to face some ‘un­com­fort­able truths’.

Th­ese in­cluded the fact that, in 2019, the English pro­fes­sional game in­cluded only nine black crick­eters — down from 33 in 1995 — and two black sup­port staff.

And while the ECB have worked hard over the last cou­ple of years to im­ple­ment their South Asian Ac­tion Plan, Vikram Solanki re­cently be­came the first Bri­tish-Asian to be made head coach of a county side when he took charge at Sur­rey.

With the spare space on the board due to be filled in early Novem­ber, four of the 11 vot­ing in­cum­bents are women — although one, Delia Bushell, has come un­der pres­sure after re­sign­ing as chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Jockey Club fol­low­ing an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing, racist re­marks and shar­ing of­fen­sive ma­te­rial.

Mean­while, Watmore has warned that ‘painful’ fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions will have to be made as the ECB come to terms with the ef­fects of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, re­it­er­at­ing that the board would lose at least £ 100 mil­lion de­spite stag­ing be­hind-closed-doors se­ries against West Indies, Ire­land, Pak­istan and Aus­tralia.

‘It’s in­evitable we are go­ing to have to re­duce ex­pen­di­ture on the ECB it­self,’ he said. ‘That will be painful in places and painful to peo­ple. I re­gret we have to do that but it is some­thing we do have to do.’

Writ­ing on the ECB web­site, he re­ferred to a ‘fi­nan­cial day of reck­on­ing’. But he did re­as­sure the 18 first­class coun­ties they would have a role to play in all com­pe­ti­tions, after Graves had sug­gested some may have to forgo first- class sta­tus be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­straints. Watmore also backed the con­tro­ver­sial Hun­dred tour­na­ment, which was post­poned this sum­mer, and said he hoped it could be played in front of crowds in 2021.

 ?? GETTY IM­AGES ?? Test­ing times: Ian Watmore has plenty on his plate as new ECB chair­man
GETTY IM­AGES Test­ing times: Ian Watmore has plenty on his plate as new ECB chair­man
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