The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) governing body has named Richard Gould, a prominent critic of the new short-form domestic competition the Hundred, as its new chief executive.
Gould will take up the post at the end of January and will work to deliver the vision set out by ECB chair Richard Thompson to make cricket the most inclusive sport in the country.
Gould said: "I am honored to have been given the opportunity to lead our game forward in England and Wales as part of a talented and committed team that encompasses the ECB, every cricket club in the land, all the counties, our partners, sponsors, fans and the army of players and volunteers that support the game in every corner of our country.
"Cricket is a national asset that can be played by all and helps strengthen and enhance communities across the nation.
"It can inspire the country and provides opportunities for all. But we have also seen the pain suffered by those who have experienced discrimination. We are determined to repair this damage and show that cricket can become the most inclusive and welcoming sport of all.
"I look forward to taking up the role in the new year, but for now will be an armchair fan supporting our men's team in the T20 World Cup in Australia, while the women prepare for their T20 World Cup challenge in February."
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He joins the governing body from English soccer club Bristol City FC where he worked as chief executive and succeeds Tom Harrison, who stepped down as chief executive in May and departed in June after more than seven years in the role.
Clare Conner, managing director of England women’s cricket, then took over as interim chief executive and will remain in the post until Gould’s arrival.
While Gould spent the last 18 months involved in soccer, he previously worked in county cricket for 16 years, spending six years as Somerset County Cricket Club’s chief executive and then Surrey County Cricket Club before returning to Bristol City FC in 2021.
Before his years in county cricket, he acted as commercial director of Bristol City between 2001 and 2005.
Thompson said: "When I joined the ECB, I said that this was a reset moment for our organization and our sport. Recruiting a CEO who can lead the organization forwards and deliver on the vision of becoming the UK’s most inclusive sport was one of the first important steps in that.
"With his outstanding leadership skills and experience of managing transformation, the nominations committee felt that Richard Gould was the outstanding candidate.
I am looking forward to working with Richard to not only bring our game together but to show how cricket can do so much more in bringing communities together. We will work in a spirit of collaboration and partnership with the whole cricket network to do this.
"I'd also like to express my sincere thanks to Clare Connor who has done an outstanding job as interim CEO at an incredibly challenging time for the organization. I look forward to her continuing to play a leading role in growing our game as part of the ECB's leadership team when Richard joins."
The appointment comes two months after Thompson was appointed chair in August. The pair worked together closely together during their time at The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club, where they were outspoken critics of the Hundred.
However, since then both have softened their stances, with Thompson stating in September: “If the Hundred can generate significant value to the game, then that’s a got to be a good thing.”
Gould, meanwhile, told Sky last year before leaving Surrey: “We hope the Hundred is a great success, we hope that every match here plays to a sell-out attendance, and we’ll be doing our absolute utmost to make sure that is delivered.”
Last month, the ECB announced the competition achieved an overall attendance of over 500,000 for its second season. The figure for this year’s edition of the tournament, the second, which came to an end on September 3, was set across the course of 68 games, split evenly between the men’s and women’s eight-team competitions (34 each).
The ECB has said that in terms of specific attendances, the record for a women’s game was broken twice, with over 20,000 attending for the tournament’s final at Lord’s in London.
For women’s fixtures, there was an average attendance of 10,400.
Across the tournament’s domestic broadcast partners, pay-TV’s Sky Sports and the free-to-air BBC, meanwhile, a total cumulative audience of 14.1 million was recorded.