U.S. billionaire Allen Stanford is trying to remake the face of cricket in hopes of turning it into the number one spectator sport in the world, perhaps one day even surpassing the popularity of football and baseball in his home country.
To this end, he has opened a cricket-themed restaurant (The Sticky Wicket) in Antigua, made a point of honouring West Indian cricket greats via The Sticky Wicket Hall of Fame and built the Stanford Cricket Ground – the location for his latest “big idea” – a 20/20 contest in which the winning team walks away with US$20 million (that's US$1 million per man) and the loser gets…well, nothing.
It all happened this past weekend. The Stanford Superstars roundly embarrassed the England team, winning the match by an astounding ten wickets and becoming overnight millionaires in the process. West Indian bloggers put in their two cents’ worth…
From Trinidad and Tobago, This Beach Called Life says:
Whether people agree or not, 20/20 is the future of Cricket. I say this because in the real world of sports money talks louder than the traditionalist. 20/20 Cricket promoted by billionaire Sir Allen Stanford, has taken the gentleman’s game of cricket to a new commercial level very few sports enjoy. 20/20 may hardly resemble traditional test cricket and the limited 50 over game but it is intensely entertaining and may just be what the Americans will order if it is on the menu.
Caribbean Beat Blog was thrilled at the victory and thought it went a long way to firing up regional cricket fans who have had more than their fair share of disappointment over the last few years:
A few minutes ago, the West Indies’ Stanford Superstars seized a US$20 million victory in the Stanford 20/20 Super Series from tournament favourites England – without losing a wicket!
And it was a thrashing.
The future of the nascent Stanford 20/20 form of cricket, often maligned for being an American abbreviation of the game and for several peculiarities and controversies over the last week, seems to be secure. According to its creator, Sir Allen Stanford, ‘Caribbean cricket is back! This programme is working!’
And whether playing for regional pride or the US$1 million-a-player purse, the team gave often-disappointed West Indies fans plenty to celebrate, and much to feel hopeful about.
Abeni, who was “not actively following the game” from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was “still very happy the team won”:
Given their performances as the West Indies team, I didn't really give them much of a chance but they sure rose to the occasion. My only wish is that the young men use it wisely. Too often we hear of persons who have made millions becoming destitute all because of poor financial decisions. So fellas, enjoy your windfall but live smart.
In the words of Caribbean Beat:
Congrats to our million dollar men!