Colin Graves will step down as chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board on 31 August, allowing Ian Watmore to take over after he was cleared of any wrongdoing by a review of his brief spell on the board of the Football League.
Graves, who is now expected to run to become chair of the International Cricket Council when Shashank Manohar departs this summer, had previously extended his five-year term at the ECB by six months in order to oversee the first year of the Hundred.
With that tournament now postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the 72-year-old former Yorkshire chairman and Costcutter magnate will pass the baton on to Watmore sooner, subject to ratification by the ECB annual general meeting at the end of this month.
The appointment of Watmore as the ECB’s first salaried chairman has not been entirely smooth despite a strong CV that includes a background in business as chief executive of Accenture, 16 years as a senior civil servant, a short tenure as chief executive of the Football Association and time on the boards of various sporting bodies.
A report last month in the Daily Mail highlighted a question mark over the 61-year-old’s conduct during a four-month stint on the board of the EFL, with the suggestion that a meeting held with Mel Morris, the Derby County owner, had prompted the threat of a breakaway league during a disagreement over a new rights deal.
When announcing on Friday that Watmore remains chair-elect, however, an ECB statement said: “During an extensive process, that included a confidential review of the report referenced in media, the subcommittee has universally agreed that there was no evidence to support any allegation of wrongdoing on Ian Watmore’s part. In addition, it was concluded that the appointment process had been undertaken in a thorough and professional manner and the board now regards the matter closed.”
The ECB review was overseen by the board directors Barry O’Brien, Katie Bickerstaffe and Martin Darlow, the first of whom had sat on the original nominations committee chaired by Lucy Pearson and overseen, from a county perspective, by the late David Hodgkiss, the former Lancashire chairman who passed away in March after contracting Covid-19.