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Stanford’s money makes his intentions irrelevant

June 26th, 2008 by Daniel Brigham in England, Twenty20 and tagged , ,

There is a general mistrust of Texans among the British. First off, there’s George Bush. Then there are cowboy hats. Then there is George Bush wearing a cowboy hat. Throw in some big moustaches, drawling accents, country and western music and it’s not hard to see why they are viewed – almost certainly unfairly – as rather cartoon-like figures.

Which probably explains the general snooty scepticism directed at Allen Stanford, the sickeningly rich Texan who is very generously throwing a lot of his money into trying to revive cricket in the Caribbean and, now, England. Yee-hah.

He turns up to press conferences in helicopters, carries off a big moustache with aplomb and declines to shake hands in preference for a great big manly bear hug – hand-shaking is for wimps, and possibly the less-rich. So far so impressive. But then he says he finds Test cricket boring. Uh-Oh. Then he insists on having his name plastered down the side of his special black bats, possibly making his intentions to the cricket world less philanthropic than he makes out. Oh dear. Then – shock-horror – he shamelessly brings out $20m in a big box at his press conference to announce the ‘Stanford 2020 for 20’ tournament. How tacky.

Except, why should we care how he goes about his business when you consider the figures. Each winning player of the West Indies All Stars v England Twenty20 match on November 1 in Antigua will receive $1m, another $1m goes to the remaining squad players and another $1 to the winning management team.

The rest of the $7m will go to the English and West Indies boards. And there lays question – just how will the money be used and why isn’t the entire $20m going to this pot rather than to the players’ pockets?

But it’s still $7m more dollars than cricket would have without Stanford. And the rather sniffy accusations that Stanford isn’t doing it for the love of the game are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how philanthropic Stanford’s intentions are – since when should we expect a businessman to invent vast amounts of money into cricket just for the love of it? What matters is that he’s putting the kind of money into cricket that is desperately needed. The money going to the players is an irrelevance, just a clever marketing ploy. But if the spirit of philanthropy is to be continued, then the selectors should overlook the current international players when it comes to picking the team.

Kevin Pietersen doesn’t struggle to scrape together pennies, Stuart Broad doesn’t look old enough to have his own bank account and Michael Vaughan has some very tidy housing investments. So England’s team should be made up of those never likely to win an England cap: James Middlebrook supplying the spin, Stephen Peters opening the batting and Steve Kirby opening the bowling. The question is, would it make any difference?!

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, Twenty20 | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Stanford’s money makes his intentions irrelevant”

  1.   Gary Naylor says:

    Do all billionaires invest in sport for the money? Berlusconi at Milan? Abramovich at Chelsea? Lerner at Aston Villa?

    There’s more to value than money, and Stanford may see his investment as akin to sponsoring a golf or tennis tournament. It’s all so new that it’s hard to predict anything about the game at the moment.

    But I do know that after that World Cup in 2007 and with Test Match and ODI attendances declining, without T20, the game would be in more trouble than with it.

  2.   D Charlton says:

    Daniel - just why does cricket need any more money? It’s got plenty already, especially after the Sky deal. Grass-roots cricket is flush, development schemes and cricket charities are booming.

    You sound like an evil capitalist believing the market justifies everything.

    At least Giles Clarke agrees with you.

  3.   Cricket Bats says:

    Well what a mess it all turned out to be!

    I doubt the ECB will learn any lessons as money talks! Just look at how much the banks learn from previous credit booms and busts!

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