Alex Massie Alex Massie

Stanford Calamity? Only for Antigua, not for cricket

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.

Nothing to quarrel with in the first two parts of that paragraph: there’s some grim satisfaction in seeing the ECB embarrassed by Stanford’s eclipse and many of us did doubt that anything good or long-lasting could come from Stanford’s involvement in a game he clearly neither understood, nor appreciated (sometimes one thinks the same could be said of the ECB and ICC). But, dash it, the lowering of his flag has cheered me up just as, I rather think, many other cricket-lovers may be quietly pleased to see Stanford’s colours struck. Doubtless this will be but a temporary victory but there’ve been so few of them in recent years that high-church cricket fans should make the most of this one while it lasts.

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.

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