ECB's all-white board 'not acceptable', says new chair Ian Watmore

Watmore to push for greater diversity and an ECB that is more "representative of society"

George Dobell
George Dobell
Ian Watmore, the ECB's new chair-elect

Ian Watmore, the ECB's new chair-elect  •  ECB/Getty Images

Ian Watmore, the ECB's new chair, has admitted the current make-up of the board is "not acceptable" and insisted there must be more diversity within the administration of cricket.
Watmore, who officially replaced Colin Graves at the ECB on Tuesday, believes the ECB can't lead the sport effectively unless its leadership is "representative of the society it's trying to serve".
With Lord Kamlesh Patel, who has been a key architect of the South Asian Action Plan, stepping down from the board having completed his five-year term, all 11 members of the current ECB board are white. With four of those positions taken up by women, Watmore also accepted the board's gender balance was "very strong" but "could still be better".
"It's quite clear that we do not have the diversity of board that we need going forward," Watmore said. "With Kamlesh stepping down, we revert to being an all-white board, and that's not acceptable going forward 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. There's more than just the board behind the ECB: there are lot of important subcommittees that do a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. That's an area where I want to also broaden out diversity and inclusion.
"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 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. That's definitely something we need to develop."
In what appeared to be an attempt to distance himself from Graves, who ended his tenure as ECB chair by publicly questioning "the point" of a third of the first-class counties, Watmore expressed his support for all 18. While he accepted that "economics and performance standards" would have to be maintained, he stressed he had no plans to cut the numbers.
"One of the things about the county system that I really like is its diversity and richness," Watmore said. "Let's start with Leicestershire, who have got their first female chair in Mehmooda Duke. She's got really exciting plans for that county, building England players of the future from within her boundaries and developing diversity.
"Derbyshire have stepped up to the fore and will be hosting the women's international games. Gloucestershire a couple of years ago were the first county to have an all-rainbow county cricket shirt as part of their anti-homophobia day. Worcestershire are very strong on disability cricket. Kent and Durham are powerhouses of developing players and have created a huge talent pool over the years.
"Everywhere, the county system is playing its part in the richness of the tapestry of English cricket, and I am very proud of all of them for what they're doing.
"What I think counties should be aspiring to do is playing in all forms of cricket and developing England players of the future. Potentially, each of them having a nuanced, localised strategy of the type I was talking about.
"Some will be the big Test match providers, others might be the regional hub for talent in, say the south-west or the east of England. Each county can play its part in the future of English cricket, in addition to playing in the core tournaments. That's the vision I come into this job with.
"But if the economics and performance standards don't allow that over a period of time, or individual counties decide they want to do something different, that's a conversation. But it's not where I'm coming from as I come into this job."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo