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Ian Watmore, Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes,Warwickshire CEO Stuart Cain and Warwickshire chairman Mark McCafferty with the County Championship trophy
Ian Watmore (left) presented Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes, CEO Stuart Cain and chairman Mark McCafferty with the County Championship trophy last month

Chairman Ian Watmore has left the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The 63-year-old, who took over from Colin Graves in September 2020, departs after serving only 13 months of a five-year term.

The ECB said he had reached a “mutual agreement” to stand down at the end of the domestic season.

Watmore said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Deputy chairman Barry O’Brien will step up on an interim basis but will not seek to take the post long term.

Watmore is a former chief executive of the Football Association and senior civil servant.

His departure comes as the ECB prepares to meet to make a decision on whether or not England men’s Ashes tour of Australia this winter will go ahead.

The board will meet in the coming days to decide on the tour, which has been under threat because of the conditions in which it will be held as a result of coronavirus.

On Monday the ECB said it will “decide whether the conditions are sufficient for the tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance”.

Since then, positive talks have been held between England players and Cricket Australia to move the tour a step closer to being confirmed.

Watmore departs soon after the England men’s and women’s teams withdrew from limited-overs series in Pakistan scheduled for this month.

The ECB said there were “increasing concerns about travelling to the region” and that going ahead with the tour would will “add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments”.

Watmore’s tenure also included the launch of The Hundred, the ECB’s new tournament that saw men’s and women’s teams compete in a 100-ball format this summer.

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the BBC footer - SoundsSource: BBC

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