Stanford 20/20 Can Save WI Cricket
Sat, Jan 21, '06
I write to respond to an article by Garfield Myers titled " Why Twenty20 'Big Man'?" in which he acknowledged the emergence of Twenty20 cricket and potential for the region, but encouraged the legends of West Indies cricket who are in support of the upcoming Stanford Twenty20 championship to whisper in the proprietor's ear about investing his money in more traditional forms of the game.
These proclamations, albeit reserved, that Twenty20 cricket is here to stay and that it could, in more ways than one, help to popularise the game in the region, especially at the school level is dead-on right. However, I vehemently disagree with your suggestion that Antiguan billionaire Allen Stanford is investing his money in the wrong form of the game.
The fact is, after all is said and done, Stanford - like Australian Kerry Packer was - is a visionary, and it is in the future of the game that he is interested.
Twenty20 cricket, which we should all know by now started in England in 2003 and has spread like wildfire in South Africa, Australia and Asia, was developed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to lure crowds at local matches, and to win new, younger audiences. And so far it has worked.
In fact, because of Twenty20, cricket is highly likely to return to the Commonwealth Games and could very well make an entry to the Olympics as at present proposals to have this new form of the game contested at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympics have been drafted and are reported to be at an advanced stage.
But what exactly is Twenty20 cricket? To the ECB and those at the International Cricket Council who supports it, it is the form of the game that answers to globalisation. To them Twenty20 has the potential to attract new and young audiences, attract businesses, make cricket clubs financially independent, and make players the stars (like traditional sports such as football, basketball, baseball, etc) and not the game itself. </>
To the critics, however, like Michael Holding said recently, Twenty20 is 'slug-fest' cricket. They argue that it teaches wrong batting concepts, unfriendly to bowlers, especially fast bowlers, and could have a damaging effect on the more traditional one-day and longer forms of the game. Some even labelled it as a passing fad. </>
It is this latter school of thought that Myers seems to support and like all other Stanford critics, is asking why the business mogul is investing his money in Twenty20 cricket when other cricketing programmes around the region need development. </>
Well, the answer is that Stanford is looking at the bigger picture. He is looking at the future. Like the ECB and others, he is looking at where cricket and in specific West Indies cricket is, and what needs to be done to ensure its viability in an ever changing global world. </>
He, like most observers, sees that West Indies cricket is in a spot, at all levels, local, national and regional, and that unless something urgent is done to arrest the situation and take advantage of next year's World Cup, the quadrennial spectacle could come and go without the region maximizing its true potential.
That is why he is investing in West Indies cricket. He has the money, yes, and as a businessman, wants to make more money, whether directly or indirectly through the inaugural Stanford Twenty20 tournament, but it is, I believe, and I am sure the legends believe, his underlining love for the game and its future, especially in the West Indies, why he is investing in Twenty20 cricket.
Cricket to the West Indies, is what basketball is to America and football is to Europe and South America - the heartbeat of the nation. Stanford is doing his part to protect and preserve this legacy, by investing his money in a form of the game, which he knows, if successful, could transform the economic, social and political landscape of the region.
It's a strategy that the legends of West Indies cricket, which are supporting the venture, would have no doubt heard and accepted, and as such need not whisper in the "Big Man" ears. Twenty20 is going to transform the fortunes of West Indies cricket.
* Jermaine Lannaman is a WICB Certified Coach, journalist, and cricket academic at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.