Alex Massie

Stanford’s Demise

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It's an ill-wind that fails to blow in any silver-lined clouds and the current financial difficulties are no exception. It seems that Sir Allen Stanford, the Texan financier determined to "crack" the American "market" with Twenty20 cricket may be in a spot of bother himself. I'm going to guess that having people suggest you could be a kind of Caribbean Bernie Madoff is, even if completely untrue, not Good News.

It wasn't the money involved in the Stanford Twenty20 challenge match between his all-stars and England that was objectionable. After all, there's a long history of big-money challenge matches and cricket's known worse rogues than Stanford in the past. True, the event was pretty vulgar stuff but that's not really the issue either. No, by hopping into bed with Stanford the ECB made a mockery of their oft-professed desire to insist that test cricket remains the pinnacle of the game. Yet here they were partnering a man who loathes "proper" cricket and sees Twenty20 as the future of the game. Perhaps the ECB thought it better to have Stanford inside the tent than outside it and perhaps there was some sense in that. Nonetheless, it was a strange way to carry on since it's hard to see how allying themselves with the enemy (in as much as Stanford helpes spread the false notion that test cricket is "boring" he is definitely the enemy) was going to advance cricket's own best interests.

True, Stanford's money may have played a part in the West Indies recent, if still fledgling, recovery and to the extent that is the case he deserves our thanks. But that apart he's been a pestlient influence upon the sport and I suspect few fans will weep over his rumoured and anticipated departure.

That's not to say that Twenty20 is entirely barbarous*. There are many forms of cricket and each have their chamrs. But making Twenty20 more than an entertaining diversion would be a mistake. Needless to say, that's a mistake the ECB and their accomplices at the ICC seem determined to make.

*Indeed, it's quite fun to play on a Tuesday evening. But even at Border League level - wherre Twenty20 obviously brings the big television contracts - it's a diversion from the main business of winning the league. That's what matters, not the tip and giggle froth of Twenty20.

UPDATE: Yup! He's being investigated for an (alleged!) $8bn fraud.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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