Niraj Odedra and Elliot Wilson relishing challenge with national cricket team
Bermuda’s new short-term head coach Niraj Odedra and director of cricket, Elliot Wilson, have been tasked primarily with developing the sport at national level.
But their focus does not end there, with Odedra already assisting in coaching sessions at Somerset and Cleveland since beginning his 2½ month assignment on July 1, while Wilson has also recognised the need to develop the game at the club level and youth level.
The pair were introduced yesterday by Cal Blankendal, executive director at the Bermuda Cricket Board.
Wilson is a former player with English county side Worcestershire. He moved to the island in 2018 after marrying a Bermudian and has already immersed himself in the local cricket culture.
“Myself and Niraj are ex-first-class players, I played 64 games for Worcestershire and was an opening batsman, so obviously there is that cricket understanding,” Wilson said.
“I own a financial advising company and have a lot of financial understanding and a lot of organisational experience and obviously I’m itching to contribute to the Bermuda cricket community. “This all came about when you advertised for a head coach. The head coach role is a full-time role, so I can’t help with that but I absolutely thought of Niraj.“We not only played first-class cricket but coached together in the past and Niraj, for me, is at a fantastic stage of his career, 46, and can work with players, be hands-on with them and get them better.”
Wilson has seen a lot of local cricket over the past four years and is excited about the prospects for the game at both the domestic and national levels.
“I think there are some very talented cricket players on the island and I absolutely do think we can hugely improve results, implement game plans that will be very effective,” Wilson said. “Obviously we’ve got big opportunities with T20 next year.
“I’m really excited about that Indian exposure being affiliated with Bermuda, not just from a cricket perspective. We’re a small country but we’re an ICC Associate member and that is not insignificant.
“I do feel like there is a lot of potential and what I’m going to try to do in my role of director of cricket is quite a lot of off-field stuff as well.
“I’m a big believer that the foundation is good facilities, so we’ve got to get new facilities available to the players throughout the island.
“I’m working on that, bringing in private funding from a corporate sector in Bermuda and also on an indoor cricket facility that all of the parts of the community can use, not just the national players.”
Wilson stressed that his role with the board is a part-time role.
“Just bear in mind it is a part-time role but I feel I can get all the stuff done anyway,” he added.
Odedra has settled into his short-term role in the week he has been here. He is doing the job here during the Indian off-season.
“He’s not only worked with the national team, he’s made himself available to the Cup Match clubs, has done a session with Cleveland County and also the under-19s, so the head coach role is not only for our senior men’s programme but cricket across the island,” Blankendal said.
Odedra played first-class cricket for Saurashtra in western India for five years, having grown up in a family of cricketers, including a brother who now lives in Britain and played first-class cricket and captained Saurashtra.
“Cricket was special in the family and still is,” he said. “I started coaching in 2014 with Saurashtra and went into four finals in five years, the highlight of my career.
“Last year we did really well when it came to white-ball cricket and I really think that white-ball cricket suits this island as well.
“The more I see of them I think they are very strong, agile, fast-moving cricketers and I want to develop that form of cricket here. “I’ve been going to different clubs and I think that cricket is thriving here on the island.”
Odedra has stressed that the authoritarian approach to coaching is not necessarily the best approach to get the most out of the national team players, but rather talking to players and learning about their needs.
“One of the reasons why I took on this job is that I thought it would be good to learn about a different culture when it comes to cricket and that it would be good learning for me as well,” he added. “I want to grab it with both hands and to try to do what is best for Bermuda.”
He is looking forward to experiencing the Eastern Counties and Cup Match this month, Bermuda’s two major cricket events.