There's some good stuff in Michael Henderson's column on the so-called Stanford debacle* today, even if he indulges himself with a rather rosy,soft-focus view of cricket's past. The ideal of the village green bathed in evening sunlight with the vicar standing as umpire and children playing by the boundary and all that is a powerful, enduring image for sure but this English arcadia is only one thread running through the game's history. A history that has been tougher, more scandalous and, often, meaner, than Henderson's cosy view would have one believe. That's to say, the sport's history is well-stocked with cads and frauds and bounders and Allen Stanford is but the latest of them.
Still, Henderson concludes:
However it is run, though, cricket deserves a better fate than betrayal by those who seek to represent it. True lovers of the game felt diminished by Stanford's arrival, and the lowering of his flag will not have lightened their load.
PS: Rain in Antigua - arriving as forecast - makes England's decision to follow the modern fashion and a) not enforce the follow-on and b) then delay their own declaration too long all the more regrettable. Together these decisions reduced their (still excellent) chances of winning the test and while this may not matter too much today, it's further evidence that the team lacks confidence and, I'm afraid, the sense to maximise their chances of victory. As I say, it shouldn't matter in the end today, but it might some other time.
*Clearly its bad news - very bad news - for an Antiguan economy that was set to endure a difficult year anyway. That's a different matter and one that rather puts the question of whether Giles Clark should resign from the ECB into some sort of perspective.
UPDATE: Mike Atherton's piece is also well worth your time:
And the lessons for those running English cricket? When a game is played for money only, it is worthless, and enough people care about the England cricket team not to want to see them playing worthless fixtures. The England cricket team mean an awful lot to an awful lot of people and they do not like it when they see something valuable, something that represents them, reduced to a rich man's plaything.
Yup. And I'm not even English...