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The Big Read: Director of Cricket Elliot Wilson gives his take on state of the game in Bermuda

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Elliot Wilson, the BCB Director of Cricket, left, and head coach Niraj Odedra are given a bird’s-eye view of the 2022 Cup Match at Somerset Cricket Club by commentator Allan Douglas, who is also chairman of the BCB’s High Performance Committee

Bermuda’s newly appointed Director of Cricket is determined to shake up the game with a view to returning the island to something approaching the glory days that led to qualification for the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.

For astute observers, the deterioration of Bermuda cricket began even before departing Trinidad & Tobago, where a national team that in key areas was unrecognisable from that which qualified for the holy grail two years earlier, suffered three one-sided defeats by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Losing to established Test nations is nothing to be ashamed about, but over the ensuing decade and more, there has been such an inglorious slide down the ladder of international cricket that the gap to countries such as Jersey — which did not gain Associate membership into the ICC until 2005 — is trending seriously in the wrong direction for those who love and are heavily invested in Bermuda cricket.

This divide repeats a sequence and path well worn by the likes of Afghanistan, Oman and Vanuatu who were not recognised by international cricket at the start of this millennium but who are now playing on an entirely different plane from Bermuda.

Jersey, who suffered the ignominy of having players Mankaded by Bermuda in successive ICC tournaments, have got their own back where it matters — on the field, so a bit of karma, if you will — by clinching the only spot available to the six teams who contested the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B between the autumn of 2019 and the summer of 2022.

Crushing losses by six wickets (chasing down 110 in less than 20 overs), 291 runs and 206 runs, no matter that the second and third matchups featured Bermuda teams that were more developmental in nature, epitomised the reality that the countries are on entirely different axes in almost every demonstrable area.

Elliot Wilson became the second person to swim around the island two years ago. Now he tackles the more challenging feat of turning around Bermuda cricket (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Elliot Wilson is a former first-class opening batter with Worcestershire in the English County Championship who previously came to notoriety in Bermuda for becoming the second person to swim solo around the island two years ago. So he is well used to taking on the seemingly impossible, and is committed to turning around Bermuda cricket starting from the ground up.

Having observed from a distance after marrying a Bermudian and emigrating to the island, Wilson made himself available first as an assistant coach as the BCB determined to move away from Herbie Bascome as national coach, and then in the new position of Director of Cricket while playing a hand in attracting the accomplished Niraj Odedra as head coach from India.

Covering a wide scope, which is essential to do for fear of Band-Aid approaches not having any lasting impact, the 42-year-old financier gives his views in a lengthy interview with The Royal Gazette that touches on everything from his commitment to Bermuda cricket, facilities, the need for an indoor cricket school, funding and the lack of schools cricket to community engagement, a national selection ranking system and the vexing area of players’ behaviour, which reared its ugly head recently with a nasty spitting incident in full view of board executives and a new sponsor.

Welcome to Bermuda: new head coach Niraj Odedra on his arrival in July, when he was met by Elliot Wilson, left, and Steven Douglas, chairman of the Cricket Committee at the Bermuda Cricket Board

Why Elliot Wilson?

I have really committed to my involvement with Bermuda cricket this summer. That went back to the start of the summer. From that moment on, I haven’t missed a single weekend of cricket, going out and watching cricket, apart from obviously when I’m on tour with Bermuda. I’ve talked to an awful lot of people, but I’ve also read extensively, so every document that’s on the Bermuda Cricket Board website, all the reports from previous years’ tours. I’ve read all of the ICC documentation that is relevant to Bermuda Cricket. You can’t really make good decisions without essentially knowing everything you can. Quite frankly, the tour to Jersey was a great eye-opener to get a feel for what a tour is. If a tour is well organised, the selection is correct and you have good personalities on a tour, it should be a really enjoyable experience.


Having just been to Jersey, they’ve got world-class cricket facilities. They’ve got incredible nets. They’ve got incredible outfields. They’ve got incredible wickets. In Bermuda, we have very poor practice facilities. This is an area that I will personally be addressing. I have already raised a significant amount of money, and this money will be used to improve facilities around Bermuda. I would like to add that I think, in reality, the country doesn’t have a lot of spare money at the moment at governmental level. I’m looking to raise money privately. But if I do that, I would like the Government to help me regarding using that money as effectively as possible and getting the most amount of facility for the amount of money put in.

I’m a big fan of cricket nets being available to the general public. If you go to Australia, the strongest cricket nation throughout history, they have publicly accessible free nets to use in pretty much every municipal park within every suburban area. This will be something that I will be looking to roll out throughout Bermuda within reason. Obviously, we have a limit to how much funding we can potentially raise. But I would love really good cricket facilities to be in the east, the west, and maybe two or three locations centrally. That said, we have obtained private funding to rent the National Sports Centre for two hours, most likely on a Sunday morning, for every Sunday of the cricket season next year.

Taking cricket forward: Niraj Odedra, left, the Bermuda head coach, and Elliot Wilson, the Director of Cricket, are presented to the media (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Indoor cricket school

The need for a dedicated cricket-only indoor facility is absolutely necessary. I'm not expecting millions to be found to build an entirely new building, but there are a number of school gymnasiums and possibly other government buildings that could be converted into an indoor cricket school. I've already raised enough private funding to pay for that conversion.

Just so you understand why I feel that an indoor cricket school is so integral to developing Bermuda cricket, let's just look at ICC funding. We basically need to be developing cricketers from ages 5 to 16, and then actually under-19s and above. And we need to be running programmes through winter, certainly for the under-tens to under-16s for ICC funding. And not mixed sexes; they have to be separate sexes. That’s what the ICC stipulates. So when you think about how much work that is for all of those different age groups — and you’ve got to double it because it’s girls and boys — how are we going to do that with the winter as it is, with the light after school hours, after work hours in winter?

Basically we need an indoor cricket facility that is 100 per cent an indoor cricket facility so that all the people do is use it, switch the lights off, walk out the door, shut it. This idea of sharing a gymnasium with a school, with a million other different things going on in that school, it just does not work for the amount of requirement that the cricket board has to run these programmes. We need a dedicated indoor cricket facility and government help. Or is there a private individual or company out there that maybe has a building that we can convert for an indoor cricket school?

Let’s just think about that ICC T20 competition next year. So at the end of this domestic T20 competition, from mid-October until whenever this tour is, likely to be February or March, how are we supposed to be training as a nation without an indoor cricket school? Bermuda needs to look in the mirror and say, “Hang on, this is one of our two national sports, football and cricket are our national sports. We do not have an indoor cricket training facility.” And people will turn around and go, “Well, hang on a minute, you’ve got use of Bermuda High School’s gymnasium." Yeah, but if you’re a cricketer, you know that turning up, pulling out all of those nets, rolling out all the mats, getting the stumps, getting everything set up, really does that work for young Bermudian cricketers? And is it acceptable to expect a volunteer coach not really getting paid anything to have to pick up incredibly heavy mats once, twice, four times a week, however often they’re involved with coaching? It just doesn’t work. You’re much better off having an indoor cricket school that has a completely carpeted floor all through the indoor facility, has nets that are already pulled out and maybe even have ones that you can push back and play indoor cricket.

Elliot Wilson has identified the disused TN Tatem Middle School building in Warwick as ideal for an indoor cricket school and dormitory for touring cricket teams on low budgets (File photograph)

Dormitory for travelling teams

It would be helpful for Bermuda and all sports really, not just cricket, to have some kind of dormitory, low-cost facility so that touring teams can come to Bermuda without having to spend an awful lot of money on very expensive hotels. I feel that Bermuda sometimes has a culture that everything has to be paid for, but you’ve got to give to get. If we could provide touring teams with use of a dormitory that could have a whole playing squad within it. I appreciate if it’s a junior side, there may be requirements on the adult coaching staff, for example, being segregated from the players. But back in my playing days, I certainly would relish a tour where I’m in one dormitory for the whole team. It would be a great team-bonding experience.

Quite frankly, having cheap accommodation really is the only way teams are going to want to tour here. An example would be my club side back in the UK: they play at a very similar level to the Bermuda national side. Now, they would probably very seriously consider an invite to come over for a week to do preseason training, particularly if we could offer them an indoor cricket school, we could offer them a great outdoor training facility next door. So let’s just take TN Tatem, the disused school sitting there. We could convert the gymnasium into an indoor cricket school. We could then have some excellent outdoor cricket nets built. We could lay down a wicket that has a batting cage around it. So you could actually have a real turf practice.

Now, if we had four dormitories at that facility, you could have three sides there. You could play a tournament against each other. It would be quite fun for all of those sides to be staying at the same facility. And then when it comes to food expenses, I mean Sargasso and Buzz. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask touring sides to pay and arrange their own food, very healthy food options, as well as the standard burgers and chips from Buzz. Bermuda needs to understand that to get better we need to play against international opposition regularly. For us to get rating points at the ICC, if we have more home fixtures, we will have our full-strength side playing. It’s a far smaller commitment for working individuals to play for Bermuda if they’ve only got to basically show up and play on one day, as opposed to jump on a plane and go away for two, three, four weeks at a time.


I sometimes hear money being raised as an issue by Bermuda players. There needs to be a reality check. The Bermuda Cricket Board does not have a lot of money. It is given about $500,000 annually by the ICC. Half of that has to go to three full-time staff to do administrative roles. Those are the rules that the ICC itself has set, not the Bermuda Cricket Board.

It just would be useful if Bermuda players realise that when they go on tour with Bermuda, the ICC pays for flights, the ICC pays for accommodation. Then the players get paid pro rata the equivalent of what they earn in their work. If you ask me, this is a pretty good deal, if you enjoy playing cricket, which is more enjoyable than working. Then you have fantastically organised tournaments at fantastic facilities against very good opposition. Throw in the fact that you now have a current first-class head coach coaching you, you’ve also got a back-up coach who has played first-class cricket. You’re going to be improving your cricket if you come on tour.

It’s also fun. If everyone turns out with the right attitude — that the team comes first, that we’re all there to improve, that we’re all there to perform, that we’re all there to play for our country — what is not great about going to an interesting country, experiencing a new culture, playing against a range of very good cricket teams, meeting people from around the world, some who you may stay in touch with and become friends with?

If anybody wants to donate to Bermuda Cricket, now would be a good time as we try to upgrade facilities across the island.

Community engagement

Because there isn’t much funding, the people of Bermuda need to step up and volunteer to help with youth development. The schools need to play cricket and the BCB needs to offer a structure that enables lots of young people to play cricket. The biggest area of growth for this could be girls. Girls’ cricket is a real focus for ICC funding. It’s absolutely necessary for us to develop girls’ cricket to obtain and to continue to obtain ICC funding.

Bermuda's greatest strength is how important cricket is to the community. If you go to a county match or Cup Match, you can see the passion and the importance it has for local people. I think we need to tap into that passion. I ask anybody who loves cricket to get in touch with the Bermuda Cricket Board and to offer time as a volunteer. Essentially, we need them to have completed Scars training. On top of that, if we feel that they are going to commit enough time, I would consider paying for them to do the basic Level 2 cricket coaching course. But if they’ve played cricket, they may not need that if they’re helping with the younger age groups.

National squad selection

We’ve got lists of all the players we’re looking at from a national perspective, and we rank them. We’ve got an under-23 emerging players squad of all the players that we think are going to potentially kick on to the national team. Those lists are very important. Don’t underestimate how important selection is; in particular, informed selection. It has to be academic as well. I think ranking systems are a very useful way of making sure you don’t forget players. There’s a lot of players playing abroad. There’s a lot of players playing here. Those ranking systems should be updated.

You might say, “Oh, well, will you publish those ranking systems?” I don't think that is a good idea as some players won’t be included in them because, in our opinion, we don’t think that we’re looking at them from a national perspective. If we include absolutely everyone, that’s a colossal amount of work. Everyone’s pretty busy with their roles already and that’s why I’m reluctant to publish ranking lists.

I am quite honest with players. If they came to me and they said, “Why wasn’t I picked for a tour?” I might even say something like, “Let me have a look at the ranking list. I’ve got you down here as the ninth-best batter. For this tour, we picked seven batters, three all-rounders, and however many bowlers. Are you better than him, him, him, him, him?” The answer is probably no. “Well then, go away and score more runs to become better than him.” Then, I think that player is in an informed position. Obviously, I would probably add in ideas about how they might improve as well.

That’s the thought processes behind rankings. But also, it really does help us consolidate our thoughts as well. We’ve got to pick players with the correct attitude because it’s very, very obvious when you go away on a tour that even one person not facing in the same direction as the other players, they can actually ruin a tour. That absolutely will be a consideration in selection moving forward. I’m afraid to say things like behaviour is, it all goes into the melting pot of whether we believe they have the correct personality to become a constructive team member. You’ve only got to look at results to see that people aren’t performing amazingly well. But if they don’t have the correct attitude, it’s not that hard for us to leave them out.

Umpires and player conduct

Players' behaviour needs to improve. I’m a huge admirer of umpires. They actually have a very high level of umpiring in Bermuda. I’ve watched cricket all summer and I’ve been very impressed with the level of officiating, but very unimpressed with the reaction from the players. In my opinion, players who step over the line in their behaviour should immediately be banned from the next round of games. Whether we give the umpires the discretion to do that, or whether their report is fed to the BCB and that is put in place, it should be done.

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Published September 16, 2022 at 10:53 am (Updated September 16, 2022 at 10:53 am)

The Big Read: Director of Cricket Elliot Wilson gives his take on state of the game in Bermuda

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