Ian Lovett elected ECB president with remit to improve board's public image
Former Middlesex chairman and ECB deputy chairman takes up ambassadorial role ahead of crucial two-year period for the board
The ECB has revived the role of ECB president, a post that was briefly discontinued when Giles Clarke ended his long association with the board back in May, by unveiling Ian Lovett, the former Middlesex chairman and ECB deputy chairman, in the post.
Lovett, who stepped down from the board earlier this year after a nine-year tenure, will take up the role with immediate effect after his nomination was ratified by the 41 ECB members. In particular, he will act as an ambassador for the governing body and the wider game, as part of a bid to improve the board's public image after a bruising few months of negative publicity.
"I am hugely excited to be taking on this new role," Lovett said. "I am passionate about our aims to grow the game and to do that we need to work collaboratively with everyone involved in the sport at all levels, particularly the army of volunteers upon whom we are so reliant. I will do all that I can to help with that."
The post has changed significantly in nature since it was created in 2015, ostensibly to permit Clarke to retain his influence at the ICC after he had stepped down from his previous role of chairman, and reflects the ECB's attempts to soften its image as it builds towards a crucial two-year period, encompassing next year's hosting of the 2019 World Cup, and the launch in 2020 of its new domestic competition.
Lovett, who served as Middlesex chairman from 2007 to 2016, is an affable character who fulfils the criteria laid out in an ECB document earlier this year, stating that the ideal candidate for the presidency would have strong skills in "diplomacy" and "speaking in public".
However, he is also a sharp operator in his own right, having held a variety of senior roles in banking and finance. In 2017, he oversaw a comprehensive review of the ECB's governance, culminating in a series of changes to its Articles of Association that brought it in line with Sport England's new Code for Sports Governance.
Lovett is not expected to be an official member of the board. Rather he will represent the ECB at selected matches and events in a "ceremonial nature", thus taking some of the spotlight off the existing board figureheads, Tom Harrison and Colin Graves.
"Ian is a fantastic choice and we welcome him in to the role of President," Graves, the ECB chairman, said. "He has a long-held love of the game and a deep knowledge of the value it brings to people, through being a player and volunteer at his local club and high-profile roles he has held at both Middlesex and ECB. Ian has also been a driving force in the governance changes that lead to greater diversity and better decision-making in the governing body."