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What’s Up With Stanford $US5M Finale?

By Orin Davidson
Officially, no one knows yet the fate of the Allen Stanford’s future in West Indies cricket.

Every West Indian fan and probably officials too it seems, are caught up with the ball tampering scandal the Pakistan team is entangled in, in the current England series.

Suddenly all the excitement and awe of the Stanford 20/20 series two weeks ago, seem to have disappeared in two short weeks.

As a result the West Indies cricket fraternity is in danger of allowing a golden relationship to die, to the sport’s detriment.

As the Regional Board continues to make a mockery of good administrative practices , it leaves little hope of single-handedly taking the game out of the doldrums any time soon.

The sport needs individuals of Stanford’s business acumen, organizational skills and most importantly - financial strength, to eliminate its problems and reach a higher level of development in any shape or form, in a hurry.

And at this stage, it would all be a mere dream, unless the US$5 million dollar match between West Indies and South Africa becomes a reality.

Which is why it is so important the veil of silence is lifted on this important finale to the Stanford 20/20 series.

The showdown is scheduled for November 10 but for it to become a reality, the International Cricket Council (ICC) which has been responsible for most controversies in world cricket, must make its presence felt in a positive way.

So far the ball has been placed firmed in the world ruling body’s court to persuade the Pakistan Board to adjust its schedule to allow the West Indies team to arrive a minimum of four days after the scheduled start of their Futures Tours three -Test and five-game One Day International series set to start November 7.

According to the WICB, two previous attempts to have the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) re-adjust the arrival date has failed, hence higher assistance from the world body was sought for a compromise.

One finds it difficult to comprehend the PCB’s inflexibility, if one is to go by the WICB’s version of the issue.

The explanation given says it is an attempt to protect the Pakistan team from rushing into its tour of South Africa way off in January.

Although the detailed itinerary is not yet been made public in this part of the world, it is difficult to fathom a tour of three Test matches and five ODI’s, starting in early November and running well into December to affect the Pakistanis tour of South Africa in January. Moreso, in these days when preparation games have been reduced to almost non existent levels, the PCB’s explanation is bordering on the ridiculous. Especially when one takes into account the Board’s initial plan was for a November 17 start.

As much as the Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) is favorable towards helping West Indies recover from its precarious financial position with the Malaysia Tri Nation series, one would’ve thought its Pakistan brothers would’ve been sensitive enough to follow suit. All the WICB needs from them at this stage is a four or five reprieve in the itinerary.

Yet this situation would’ve been non-existent had the WICB been more vigilant in its affairs.

But once again, it dropped another of its many lapses, which has made Stanford real mad.

In his last disclosure, the American finance tycoon laid the blame squarely at the feet of the WICB for the clash -of -dates problem, stating that the Board and the ICC were aware of his November plans with the latter body approving it, since January.

Stanford went on to state he does not want to be held responsible if the West Indies players had to chose between his Super Star WI team and the Pakistan tour.

Hopefully the situation would not boil down to the players having to take sides, which is hardly conducive to the healing of the already fractured relationship the WICB has with its players.

But it is clearly obvious the Board has not woken up to the realization it has to break out of its lethargy some time or the other.

Had they done so and stayed on top of Stanford’s letter, which according to a leading West Indian journalist was received by ex WICB Chief Executive Office Roger Braithwaite in January, they would’ve been in a position to start early negotiations with the Pakistan Board to fix a conducive start date for the tour, and avoid any problems.

As far as the public knows, Stanford had set a Tuesday deadline for a guarantee of the availability of the players. Whether that deadline was reached or not, or if an extension was requested, WICB president Ken Gordon has not been heard from yet in that regard.

However, if the Trinidad Guardian newspaper is to be endorsed fully, a disturbing item was reported earlier this week.

WICB operations officer Zoral Barthley reportedly said the Pakistan tour will go ahead as planned as the Board is not about to make any accommodation for the Stanford finale game.

If accurate, this official who has been in office thought the years when fiasco after fiasco was perpetrated on the West Indies public by the Board, including the Digicel mess, does not appear to understand the meaning of remorse or couldn’t care less.

His comments are not only contrary to those made earlier that sought an accommodation, but it smacks of an indifference that has been responsible for the many ills the Regional game finds itself in now.

Hopefully his indifference is not representative of the WICB, because if anyone thinks their share of money from World Cup 2007 would be the Board’s salvation, they better think again.

If the Board pulls in more than $US 50 million it would be fortunate to so do, given the complexities of the ICC’s profit arrangement. And believe it or not, that amount is not difficult to squander by WICB standards. Just ask anyone involved to show benefits of the US$ 41M Sky TV deal, that seem to have disappeared into thin air.

Also the Board cannot always bank on India for the level of assistance matching the Malaysia Tri Nation series windfall, it organized, where a minimum of $US 2 M and a maximum of $US 3 M, would he had by the WICB.

The reality is that India is a Godfather to most of the Asia bloc especially Sri Lanka, thus it would be folly to believe they will provide Christmas everyday in the Caribbean.

Stanford may not have revealed a long term plan for West Indies cricket, but he has already invested a humongous amount in just one competition.

It would be crazy not to give him free reign to pump more into the game and create more overnight millionaires like those in the current Guyana team.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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