England cricket chief Richard Gould insists the domestic game is realising the huge “investment opportunity” that awaits the sport as private equity rumours circle The Hundred.
Recent talks surrounding The Hundred, English cricket’s unique competition, have centred on expanding it from eight teams to 10 and welcome private investment from the likes of India and the United States.
When asked whether any money would need to be spent on developing grassroots participation after an independent commission found systemic issues in the sport, Gould said it was not that clear cut.
“I don’t think the two are ultimately linked in that regard and when you say [development] will cost money, what else will we be spending our money on? It is the greatest investment you could possibly make,” he said.
“In terms of investment coming into The Hundred and into cricket, when you look at the number of tickets sold for the Ashes series’ and the interest that was there, investment follows interest.
“And there is now a huge recognition that there is an investment opportunity as well as the opportunity to correct decades of where we’ve abandoned our sport. But I think it is a perfect coming together over the next five to 10 years.”
The Women’s Ashes saw record crowds during the summer while the men’s equivalent was sold out throughout.
But some concerns have been raised over the domestic season and how congested it is, with some clubs backing changes to leagues and promotion and relegation, among other criteria.
“We’re still working through it,” added Gould, who was speaking as the England and Wales Cricket Board announced its Impact Of Cricket report.
“We are having lots of conversations with the clubs. The direction of travel is that investment will go into the teams rather than the competition, and there’s probably another two to three months worth of discussions. But there’s lots of great debate, great ideas going forward and I am confident that we will find a consensus.”
On the topic of clubs ensuring they have both men’s and women’s teams, Gould said: “It is not one we have imposed, but it is one which we have had really positive discussions.
“Why would you not have a women’s team if you have a men’s team? Promotion in the women’s competition would be independent of the promotion in the men’s competition.”