‘Proud Gizzy boy’
GISBORNE is where it all started for the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) newly-appointed chairman Greg Barclay.
Barclay grew up in Gisborne, completing his secondary school years at Gisborne Boys’ High, and played representative cricket for Poverty Bay in the Hawke Cup.
He moved to Christchurch after finishing high school to study law but continued to play cricket in Gisborne for High School Old Boys during his university holidays.
Despite making a name on the world stage, he’s still a “proud Gizzy boy” at heart, he says.
“I tell everyone I come from Gisborne even though I haven’t lived there for 30 years.
“I come back fairly regularly, and I’m still a member of Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club
. . . and get a round of golf in on the Poverty Bay course with some old friends.”
Barclay cut his cricketing teeth as a bowler on the Harry Barker Reserve pitches. He learned to bowl good line and length on tracks that were more suited to batting.
As he started to age out of premier grade cricket, an opportunity opened up at Northern Districts Cricket Association and he jumped at the chance.
“I thought ‘why not, it’s a chance to give back to cricket’.”
As he reflected on his three-year term coming to an end, he realised how much he enjoyed the position and applied for another term during which he quickly became president.
On the back of the work he had done through Northern Districts, he was nominated for the New Zealand Cricket Board in 2012 and in 2014 he was named as the country’s representative on the ICC board of directors.
He was appointed as the director of the 2015 Australia/New Zealand-hosted Cricket World Cup and a year later he was made chairman of the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) board.
At every stage of his career progression he believed it would be his pinnacle, only to find himself promoted shortly after.
“It’s been quite an incredible ride . . . where circumstance meets opportunity.”
A commercial lawyer by trade, Barclay found out about his ICC appointment when he woke up in the middle of the night and his phone was clogged with notifications.
He had received 11 of the 16 votes in the second round of ballots, securing the two-thirds majority he needed to be appointed.
Since the announcement late in November, Barclay has hit the ground running. He has regular Zoom meetings around the world, with meetings throughout the night.
He starts his calls at midnight and has meetings with the North American delegates that start at 5am.
“It’s not easy when you have a 17-person board. They’re from all over the world with a myriad of different cultures.
“It’ll be nice when I can get on a plane and do these meetings in person.”
Despite the challenges of Covid-19 on sport globally, he sees a pathway to continue growing the game.
Broadcast partners have an eight-year cycle that will see no loss in revenue if they can still host all scheduled tournaments within that timeframe, despite cancellations to tournaments, including the Twenty20 World Cup, he says.
He has seen the emergence of T20 as the dominant format of the game and what the market wants to see, but the ICC continues to have a joint focus on all three formats of the game.
“I think we can sustain all three forms. It’s just a case of fitting it into the international calendar . . . balancing everything to get optimum outcomes.”
The game is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world, with the Asian market identified as key to its growth.
Looking forward, he has goals to introduce the game to the global market through multi-sport competitions such as the Commonwealth and Pan-American Games.
“To get cricket into the Olympics would be awesome for the sport.”
Former Black Cap Martin Snedden has been named to take over Barclay’s role as New Zealand Cricket chariman.
Snedden joins the top ranks of NZC, whose chief executive David White, like Barclay, is a Gisborne Boys’ High old boy.