Stanford 20/20 Ill-Conceived
Wed, Oct 12, '05
Allen Stanford has made a massive investment in West Indies cricket. That has made all of us stop to think. The American seems to have a West Indian heart; He has invested in and brought improvements to his Antigua home; has set an example for the business sector of the region and for all of us, as he makes a positive contribution to help West Indies cricket back to a respectable position in the lead up to the 2007 ICC World Cup.
The intention must be to set up structures that will see the game return to its former position in the minds and hearts of West Indians and the rest of the cricket fraternity.
There can be no denying, the league is long overdue and the only reservation is that the money is being mainly targeted at Twenty20 cricket, an area not designed to improve anybody?s ability to play, or to appreciate the game.
Stanford has put in motion the plan that Jeff Stollmeyer outlined in an interview in 1973, when he foresaw the closing of opportunity for West Indies players in the English County Championship, then a virtual finishing school for West Indies Test cricketers.
He thought then, that it was necessary to have a professional league in the Caribbean, a league in which tough competition between the best players in the region would be ongoing for the season, with worthwhile cash rewards as incentives and motivation.
His suggestion then was the establishment of a foundation, whose funds would accrue interest that would be sufficient to pay players fees that would see them putting out their best effort.
Getting the sum that would have produced the required revenue needed the support and collaboration of the governments and major business corporations in the region.
Stanford has offered US$28 million for the first year of his plan and next year, a greater sum would be required if the plan is to continue. Stanford has aimed his effort at the senior players, who have already been developed and who can not be expected to improve dramatically.
That money is needed, there can be no doubt. Money to run the competition between the best teams from the region should be such that players would be willing to make the effort needed to be as fit and in as good form as possible to earn that money.
The prize money is surely the sort of sums that would make players put out their very best. But which players would they be and in what sort of cricket would they be playing?
For West Indies cricket to get back to some semblance of the sterling standards that were taken for granted for much of the post-World War II period, much more than winning a trophy here or there will be required.
The sort of money Stanford is offering now could be well spent in creating the type of players and the promotion of the game that is required to get the game back to where it was. What is needed is top class coaching for the young players, the boys and girls now coming into the game.
The new players, the stars of the next 10 to 20 years, need to be trained by men or women who are able to get them to enjoy playing this game and to want to come back to play it tomorrow.
More of the fabulous sum should have been spent on the development and the acquisition of coaches for the juniors.
When the coaching staffs for the junior teams are attended to so that well- qualified coaches ? I do not necessarily mean men who have passed exams ? men who are able to communicate their ideas to their students, to demonstrate the various techniques and correction of faults to their young charges- then the more advanced ages will be more easily attended to by the coaches.
Some of that money could surely be used to promote the airing, live, of local cricket, to make the young boys want to improve their play, so that when they appear on the screen they would feel proud and all their friends would want to do better.
Twenty20 cricket is a further bastardisation of the One Day Cricket as that is reduced from 50 to 20 overs.
What would people really be going to see in a Twenty20 match? Nobody bats an innings. Nobody bowls with a plan to dismiss top batsmen.
Why don?t we just say to hell with it and play baseball. The ?Batter? stands there swipes at the throw from the ?pitcher? and must run even if he hits straight to a ?fielder.?
You can have as much music as you wish all the time, not even look but have a ball of a time, drinking beer or eating nuts and shouting your heads off.
So that when you get to play against the more disciplined and less ?talented? English and Indian teams we can continue to be soundly thrashed.
The funds are sorely needed, but it seems they are directed in the wrong direction. The WICB, or its Cricket Committee should have some discussion with Mr Stanford to make better use of his very generous and needed assistance.
* In association with the Trinidad Guardian.