Raymond Wood, chairman of the Serious Cricket Home Counties Pre-mier League since it was founded in 2000, is to step down at next month’s annual meeting.

He is set to by succeeded by Ban-bury CC chairman Martin Phillips, who is due to take over at the AGM at High Wycombe CC on January 21.

Wood’s decision to relinquish con-trol comes a matter of weeks after the Hertfordshire clubs’ breakaway from the Home Counties.

But he said there was no connec-tion between the two events.

“I am not getting any younger and I have got other things I am involved in,” said the 77-year-old Reading CC trustee. “I think the time was appropriate and as it so happened we got the change this year as well.

“There is nothing sinsister in it. I think I have done my bit and maybe it is right that someone else leads the way. You can go on too long.”

Reflecting on his time at the helm, he added: “I think we helped to create a well-respected league which is among the strongest premier lea-gues in the country.

“I don’t think we got everything right all the time, but I think overall it has been a successful period, and I hope it will continue to prosper.”

Wood, who plans to spend more time playing croquet and travelling, added: “It is a fairly significant change with losing one league, but we have good clubs in the Cherwell League and Thames Valley League that constitute our league.”

He gave his backing to Phillips as he prepares to take on the role.

“We are fortunate to have an experienced man,” he added. “He has been in the league and been chairman. He is an excellent replacement.

“I am sure he will ensure that it will stay as strong as it always has.”

Phillips admitted it wasn’t a position he was seeking, but he had agreed to take it on in absence of other candidates – as he did with the Cherwell League for three years following the death of Derek Primett.

“It has not been a burning ambition of mine,” he said. “I am doing because no-one else wants to do it.

“I don’t want to belittle the post. Ray Wood has done a reasonable job over the years, but obviously it has come to a point where he doesn’t want to do it any more.”

Looking ahead, Phillips added: “Hopefully I don’t see it as too big a job. It is a smaller league than the Cherwell and hopefully all the sides have the same rationale, which wasn’t the case in the Cherwell.

“Hopefully in the Home Counties everyone is singing off the same hymnsheet.”