Neil Speight still looking out for Bermuda’s interests
Neil Speight may not physically be in the Bermuda Cricket Board office running cricket on a day-to-day basis, but the former chief executive continues to go to bat for Bermuda cricket as an International Cricket Council Board member..
Speight, who left the BCB in 2019 and now works at Bermuda Security Group, was elected as one three ICC Associate Member directors on Friday, along with Imran Khwaja, of Singapore, and Mahinda Vallipuram, of Malaysia.
Speight remains in regular contact with board officials, new president Arnold Manders and executive director Cal Blankendal while looking out for the interests of Bermuda and the other 91 Associate countries. He sits on the Chief Executives Committee as an Associate representative.
“It’s a two-year term, usually done at the AGM in the summer, so it should have been done in July, but Covid postponed everything,” Speight explained.
“The other reason there is a delay is that Imran Khwaja, the current Associates chairman, ran for the ICC chairman spot and they didn’t want to do the Associate election until they figured out if he was going to be in the chair or not.
“That caused a further delay, but once the battle between Imran and Greg Barclay from New Zealand for the ICC chairman role was completed, the ICC came out to the membership and said ʽwe need to do the Associate vote, we can’t do it in person’ and the members agreed to change the regulations and it was done electronically.”
Speight says it is “an honour, privilege and great responsibility” to continue to serve cricket at the ICC level. He was part of the BCB executive for 24 years.
“Cricket has always been a huge part of my life,” he said. “There’s no greater way to serve the sport than to be at that level and to be looking after 92 countries.
“This is something the country can take pride in, a country as small as Bermuda. They know Bermuda and its history and when it goes back to [Alma] ’Champ’ Hunt and those guys who paved the way, we are highly respected in the cricket world.
“The [ICC] board will typically meet in person four times a year, but because we are in a virtual environment, we have a meeting on Monday morning at seven o’clock. It looks like they will be having meetings every two to three weeks.”
Speight added: “I definitely want to thank the Bermuda Cricket Board and the executive — Arnold and, previously, Lloyd [Smith] — for supporting me on this. I was involved in this when I was at the board and I’m still engaged in assisting where I can.
“Cal is a neighbour of mine and ever since he took over my role, I’ve been trying to support him as best I can. I talk to him two or three times a week. Also, Herman Tucker, the owner at Bermuda Security Group, has been very supportive of me to be able to make the time to fulfil the obligations.”
Speight spoke on Bermuda’s behalf when the ICC sought to schedule the second round of Cricket World Cup League Challenge B last year at a time that would have overlapped with Cup Match. “We came up with a compromised solution, but in the end it fell away because the Uganda tournament didn’t happen,” he said.
Neither did Cup Match, both events yielding to the global pandemic.
Speight added: “To me it’s about the players and the fans and the sport, not the administration. The things that are important to Bermuda are important for the other 91 [Associate] countries.”
“The other thing we’ve been pushing for over 20 years is Olympic participation. For a long time we’ve had 98 per cent of the members in the ICC who want to be in the Olympics, but India have had their reasons why they are against it.
“England were against it, but for the last three years England have been supportive and now India are in a spot where they are not going to say no. There’s a lot of work to try to get cricket on the agenda for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.
“The USA market is something that the ICC sees as untapped, huge population, a huge amount of people who want to see and play cricket. Hopefully that is going to be one of the triggers to get it across the line this time.”