It has led to widespread mutterings of ‘I told you so’, but what will the effect of Sir Allen Stanford’s arrest and subsequent enforced pull-out from cricket actually be? Will the ECB have more to contend with than wiping egg from its face and has West Indian cricket really been dealt a devastating blow?
ECB chairman Giles Clarke has been quick to underplay the significance of recent events. The Stanford 20/20 for Twenty millionaire match and its proposed replacement, an annual quadrangular tournament at Lord’s, were apparently bonus events, outside of the ECB’s budgetary process.
However, Stanford was also due to have a presence in the English domestic Twenty20 revamp and it is widely thought that the ECB threw their hat into the Stanford ring in order to develop a rival power base to India’s Twenty20 development and expansion.
English cricket faces an uncertain Twenty20 future, but it is at least guaranteed a future. West Indies are in a different position and their administrators are left contemplating the speed in which things can change – the optimism generated by the stunning win at Jamaica has given way to humiliation caused by the Sir Vivian Richards stadium fiasco and panic by the Stanford furore.
The financial implications in the Caribbean of the cancellation of the domestic Stanford 20/20 are too early to gauge – the Trinidad and Tobago board has already estimated a reduction in income of $195,000 – but an effect on the pitch will almost certainly be seen.
A reduced cash injection will have an impact further down the line on the infrastructure, marketing and development of the game, but we will perhaps imminently see a slowing in the West Indies team’s improvement.
The unity, professionalism and application that was at the fore of Chris Gayle’s Stanford Superstars win over England has transferred to the national team and whilst the impact of coach John Dyson should not be underestimated, West Indies’ recent development is an indirect consequence of Stanford’s financial contribution.
The Stanford 20/20 tournament in West Indies has been a great success and has made international players of Lionel Baker and Sulieman Benn. It gives West Indies players a foot-up on the ladder of career development and its cancellation will undoubtedly make the unearthing of talent in the Caribbean more difficult.
A contingency plan is needed if the effect of West Indies’ Sabina Park win is not to be negated. It is hoped that the WICB did not rely too heavily on the input of a billionaire businessman for the development of cricket in the region, although they should note the success a fresh approach can generate.
Written by Philip Oliver, an online sports writer who blogs about Twenty20 cricket.