ECB CEO sees bright future for The Hundred despite Sanjay Patel’s impending exit

Richard Gould has forecast a “very long and successful future for The Hundred” despite the impending departure of one of its chief masterminds at the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Even before its inception into the domestic calendar two years ago, the 100-ball competition has polarised opinion while its position at the peak of summer – the third season will take place from August 1-27 – has attracted intense debate.

Reports last month claimed the ECB was open to reviewing The Hundred, which is still only played in the UK, with one alternative being a T20 format of two divisions featuring promotion and relegation.

Richard Gould is the England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive (John Walton/PA)
Richard Gould is the England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive (John Walton/PA)

More scrutiny on its long-term future came on Tuesday as Sanjay Patel, who led The Hundred’s creation and is its managing director, announced he will leave the ECB at the end of the 2023 competition.

After paying tribute to Patel, ECB chief executive Gould said in a statement: “There’s no doubt that The Hundred has been a success, helping cricket reach new audiences, bringing in important revenue and propelling the game forwards.

“It plays an important role in our game and I’m looking forward to a very long and successful future for The Hundred.”

Gould and ECB chair Richard Thompson were prominent critics when The Hundred was first broached during their time at Surrey, but the pair have reversed that stance in their new positions.

Any major changes to The Hundred are unlikely to be introduced in the short-term given the ECB’s broadcast partnership that runs until 2028 with Sky, one of the tournament’s major champions, while the BBC’s free-to-air arrangement covers at least the next two editions.

The increased exposure the women’s game has had in the first couple of seasons is regularly highlighted as an unqualified success while there is evidence that the scheduling, marketing and ticket pricing have helped attract new fans and a broader demographic to cricket grounds.

A report from Worcestershire chair Fanos Hira, a chartered accountant, attaches a GBP 9million loss to the first two seasons but the ECB argues that it turned a profit of GBP 11.8m.

Patel, who first joined the ECB in 2015, said: “I will miss this job and the people immensely but once we’ve completed the third season of The Hundred I believe the time will be right for me to look for a new adventure.”