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October 2008
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The TWC Summit - Do you care who wins the Stanford Twenty20?

October 29th, 2008 by Sam Collins in Stanford Twenty20, Twenty20 and tagged , , , , ,

The Stanford Super Series has become the farce that Lawrence Booth feared in this very ether two weeks ago. Slow pitches, low scores and lower crowds have remarkably been overshadowed by the vulgarity of Stanford himself, and we haven’t even had the main event. So as the $20 million match approaches we pose the crucial question: Do you care who wins the Stanford Twenty20?

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Posted in Stanford Twenty20, Twenty20 | 6 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Boring cricket puts focus on Stanford’s indecent proposal

October 29th, 2008 by Lawrence Booth in England, Stanford Twenty20, Twenty20, Uncategorized and tagged , , , ,

You can tell the cricket’s boring in Antigua: tongues are wagging about the Wags. Given Sir Allen Stanford’s penchant for self-publicity, could it be that he decided to distract attention from the worrying absence of hit-and-giggle on the field with a spot of slap-and-tickle off it? Maybe not, but the very essence of the Super Series encourages cynicism and it’s hard to escape its pull.

Emily Prior may know the feeling. The instant reaction at Wisden Towers when pictures of the England wicketkeeper’s wife bouncing on Sir Allen’s knee flashed across the screen was “Indecent Proposal”, the film where the old rich bloke played by Robert Redford offers the husband of the nubile young woman played by Demi Moore $1m to sleep with her. OK, so the analogy lacks some crucial details but the essentially mercenary nature of everything that is happening in Antigua did not make the comparison as far-fetched as it seems.

No one emerges from – oh, go on then – Wag-gate with much credit. The England players seem to have over-reacted to what may have been nothing more than a gauche piece of bonhomie from a man who doesn’t do subtle. The wives and girlfriends in question could have exerted their status as equal members of the human race and refused to be patronised. And Stanford really should have shown better judgement, regardless of whether ownership of a cricket ground and vast chunks of a Caribbean idyll might do funny things to a bloke’s sense of self-entitlement.

But, oh, the money! This is why Wag-gate palls. Kevin Pietersen claims his team are only in Antigua because they are employed by the ECB, who want them there. (Look out for more orders being followed without demur when Peter Moores cautions against too much time at next year’s Indian Premier League.) But their pact with Stanford automatically surrenders the moral high ground. It’s no good bleating about flashy behaviour now.

In that respect, the Wags may be less innocent than they seem. Flirting with the spouse’s boss is a tactic rather older than reverse-swing and twice as effective. But the episode arguably enters the realms of the seedy if the ladies felt they had no choice but to flirt with a figure who could boost their husbands’ bank balances beyond recognition. And this is where Wag-gate transcends tabloid tittle-tattle and becomes a metaphor for the entire week.

If Stanford was overplaying his hand because of who he is, and if Emily and Co felt obliged to smile along for the cameras just in case, then Wag-gate counts as a contrivance that fits all too snugly into Stanford’s tasteless world of helicopter landings, Perspex crates, cricket grounds whose superficial beauty is not matched by the conditions and proud former West Indian players paid off as brand ambassadors yet looking as if they would be rather be anywhere else.

Like everything else in the Super Series, what some may dismiss as a bit of fun may turn out to be far more than that.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in England, Stanford Twenty20, Twenty20, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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