Counties bid to oust ECB chief Graves and replace him with Watmore

Counties bid to oust ECB chairman Colin Graves and replace him with former FA chief executive Ian Watmore if Hundred launch is postponed amid coronavirus crisis

  • ECB chairman Colin Graves could be asked by counties to stand down early
  • Graves had been given a six-month contract extension to launch The Hundred
  • However, the July launch could be postponed due to coronavirus pandemic
  • Former FA chief executive Ian Watmore has been nominated to succeed Graves
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

ECB chairman Colin Graves will face calls from counties to stand down early and be replaced by Ian Watmore this summer if the launch of the Hundred is postponed due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Graves was given a six-month extension to his five-year term to preside over the inaugural Hundred and is due to stay at Lord’s until November, but the ECB are coming under increasing pressure to delay the launch of the controversial new format for 12 months given its cost and the perilous state of the game’s finances.

A number of counties have told Sportsmail it is increasingly likely that the Hundred will not take place as planned, and if the launch is delayed, they want Watmore to replace Graves immediately and begin work on a five-year plan to salvage the summer sport.

ECB chairman Colin Graves may be asked to stand down if launch of The Hundred is delayed

Former FA chief executive Watmore was nominated to succeed Graves by the ECB’s board in February in an appointment that is due to be ratified at their AGM in May, at which point he may be asked to start early. Graves may resist calls to go however, not least as he would need to be a sitting board member to stand for the chairmanship of the ICC, whose elections are due to take place in June.

In addition to the scheduling difficulty of incorporating the County Championship, One Day Cup, Twenty20 Blast and the Hundred in a truncated season, there are other logistical factors pointing towards a delay. They include a potential clash with a rescheduled IPL and the possibility that national borders will remain closed, making it impossible to secure the services of overseas stars.

Several counties are also uncomfortable about Hundred franchises paying monthly salaries of up to £125,000 to players for whom such payments are secondary income at a time when county cricketers will be asked to take wage deferrals in their only jobs.

The ECB will delay a final decision on the Hundred amid concerns that Sky Sports will withhold part of this year’s £220million television contract if it is postponed.

Proposed replacement Ian Watmore is a former chief executive of the Football Association

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