Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Billionaire rolls out millions for England-West Indies Twenty20

English and West Indian players have been left out of IPL Twenty20 tournament. Are those guys going to miss out on all the money and publicity of IPL? Maybe not.Where such huge amounts of profits are involved it is not the cricket boards but the businessmen who take the initiative.Texas billionaire Allen Stanford has offered to put up $A107 million for England to play five Twenty20 games against his West Indies all-star team.

Texan billionaire Allen Stanford held a second round of talks at Lord's yesterday as the prospect of a multi-million dollar Twenty20 tournament between England and a West Indies select XI came a step closer.

Stanford met with England & Wales Cricket Board officials for the second time in just over a week and discussions were described as "constructive and positive".

It now seems certain that a match between England and a Stanford select team will take place in November this year at the philanthropist's purpose-built ground in St John's, Antigua.

The first $20 million game would be in Antigua on November 1 and Stanford then wants to alternate venues annually between his own purpose-built ground and Lord's.

"I said that it could be an annual event. Maybe we could come to Lord's in 2009 and then alternate. I would be happy to make a five-year commitment," Stanford said.

The BBC has reported that Stanford is keen to have an English Twenty20 league and the England and Wales Cricket Board is eager to appease players keen to cash in on tournaments.
Who can blame the payers? When their counterparts are raking in huge contract fees and advertising contracts in the Indian Premeir League Twenty20 tournament.

English player Ryan Sidebottom has given his backing to a $20m winner-takes-all Twenty20 match in the Caribbean between England and a West Indies all-star XI.

"The money that is being talked about - make no bones about it - is great," said England paceman Sidebottom.

"Everyone wants to play in it and I am no different. If there's an opportunity to play in it, then why not?"

The match, set for 2009, is one idea being considered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in its attempts to limit the potential damage to the domestic game of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Initially, the ECB stated centrally-contracted players would not be permitted to take part in the IPL, which launched its inaugural competition last week and features some of the world's biggest names.

But it has recently loosened its stance to suggest they could be released if international schedules allow.

That may be enough to appease some players - such as star batsman Kevin Pietersen who described the ECB's position as "ridiculous" - and avoid any future stand-off.

Sidebottom says he hopes to feature in the IPL at some stage.

"I watched the first game," said the 30-year-old. "It is a great competition and you've got the world's best players playing.

"I would love to play in it, I am sure everyone else would, but there is nothing we can do about it.

"I am just concentrating on England at the moment, but if it does come around then I would love to play."

And there is no doubt that it will happen sooner than later. The success of IPL Twenty20 is a testimony to the marketing potential of cricket. I hope the English and the West Indies players get a piece of the 20 20 pie.

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