November 3, 2008

Mike Holmans

Much ado about nothing

Mike Holmans

They fixed the pitch, they fixed the lights and Sir Allen Stanford kept mainly to his own hospitality box, so most of what had been at fault earlier in the week was cleared out of the way for the big event.

Instead of a cricket match, though, what we got was a conjuring show.

In the first half, each member of the England team was dragged up on to the stage to be made to look ever so slightly foolish as one of the magicians made his leg stump fall over or willed him to bash the ball high in the air to fall neatly into the hands of a fielder placed just there. After the interval, The Great Gayleini spent the second half repeatedly performing his magical ball trick in which perfectly decent bowling disappears in a puff of smoke and the big screen lights up with a huge figure six. It was a consummate performance by the entire troupe.

Sir Allen was clearly delighted that his team won, and will have taken great pleasure in creating a few more Caribbean millionaires. JJDW took me to task after my last post for not expressing outrage that Stanford chose to spend his money on building a pleasant cricket ground rather than a hospital: I take the point, but at least his team’s triumph means that all his money is staying in West Indian economies. A couple of other respondents were keen to point out that he will be ploughing money into West Indies cricket, which may be the intention but depends on the venture becoming profitable. As it will probably make a loss this year, massive financial benefits will not accrue to WI cricket just yet, if at all. But I can’t really get myself worked up either way just because this event centres around amounts of money which are very large by previous cricket standards but small beer when measured against golf, Premiership football or major league baseball.

Even so, some of Stanford’s money went on getting West Indian cricketers to knuckle down to a six-week training camp. This looks to have been well spent. It has been ages since a representative West Indian team has been so fit and sharp in the field or so fired up and determined. When England return to the Caribbean in January, they will not be facing the shambolic underperformers of recent years but a team which has the potential to rip them apart.

After the show, Kevin Pietersen admitted that England had committed the grievous strategic error of allowing themselves to be distracted by side issues to the detriment of their cricket. In the long run, this may be no bad thing. Whether taking a catch wins the Ashes or a million dollars, it still demands coolness and concentration on the job in hand rather than dreams of pink Ferraris or open-top bus parades, and the lesson will not be lost on any of the England squad.

Nor is it a bad thing that the illusion of KP’s invincibility has been exploded. For some of us, England’s being completely outclassed was a reassuring return to form after the disquieting episode of the ODIs against South Africa, when England had shown disturbing signs of being good at one-day cricket. Pietersen needs to realise that tampering with hallowed traditions like England being hopeless in coloured clothing is dangerous iconoclasm and could well be against the spirit of the game.

I find it hard to work up the degree of passion that drives this event’s opponents to apoplexy. Many things will have a greater effect on the sum of human happiness than the Twenty20 For 20, even if we confine ourselves to cricket. Next year’s Ashes will depress one or other set of fans and bring lasting fulfilment to the winning team in far greater measure than a benefit game which does not even count in the official international records. It provided some cricket entertainment at a time far more convenient for the UK viewer than the Indo-Australia Tests, thousands of Antiguans had a great night out and some West Indian cricketers are now much wealthier than they were before. Nobody died, and life goes on. Is that so evil?

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Posted by Aussie Din ks on (November 3, 2008, 23:51 GMT)

In the morning when I get up my usual routine is to put the telly on and check what happened in the sports. I saw the 20/20 series and I really enjoyed it even though it was not Australia playing and I realized that I would pay to watch this faster version and it really didn't matter who was playing. From ball one it was exciting and had you rooted to your seat from beginning to end. Later I watched the "test" between Aus and India and I got so bored I walked of into my garden and pottered around a bit and came back and they had gone fifteen more runs what a bore and by the time the fifth day had come around I realized why non cricket supporters think cricket is like watching paint dry. More 20/20 please.

Posted by Anonymous on (November 3, 2008, 21:07 GMT)

England was invited because India rejected Mr.Stanford's offer to play for the $20M.I guess he wants to compete with the Indian League for supremacy in the 20/20 format by offering this lucrative deal to the English.England is by no means a team that anyone would be interested to see in such a 'hyped up' up affair.Mr.Stanford must be thinking of a way of getting out of his contractual obligations for the remaining four years-i feel sorry for him.spm

Posted by SRK on (November 3, 2008, 13:32 GMT)

it is easy to be nonchalant about the money after the event especailly when you did not get it. The fact is that you went to play for the money and did not have the cool and composure of a well paid profesional cricketers as claimed.Almost all the players got out with nervous shots and more affected by the occasion then their opponents. If money was not needed by KP and his team mates they could have announced it before the match to give it a worty cause in west indies but they did not.This was a pathetic and miserable performance by a team who usually go into a Euphoria along with English press after just one fluke series win. They were cut down to size and had one million salt grains rubbed into their wound for good meausure.They will be better prepared for indian tour one positive from the match however.Andrew Flintoff proplled to dizzying heights by the press is an ordinary player and sooner you know this, the better

Posted by AG on (November 3, 2008, 9:20 GMT)

All this nagging is of no use, bottomline is peterson said he did not want no money, they did not perform and they are not getting anything now.

Posted by Marcus on (November 3, 2008, 9:09 GMT)

Good article. The Stanford series was just a bit of fun for the crowd, and if it has the effect of improving the state of West Indian cricket (as I believe that it very well could) then so much the better. I have to agree with Lloyd over the way the English press has behaved regarding the series- letting the cricket (which was pretty good throughout the whole series) take a back seat to Stanford's off-field indiscretions like a bunch of tabloids.

Just one thing- who'd buy a pink Ferrari? A deep blood-red would look a lot sharper, and it is the traditional colour for a reason!

Posted by Lloyd on (November 3, 2008, 5:37 GMT)

Bottomline is the English players did not behave, or perform like professionals.The English press was worse.Unfortunately it pains me to say the English are becoming the French,having lost their world status,they now lash out at anything and everyone.They could not even stand up for cricket in the 2012 Olympics.

Posted by Lloyd on (November 3, 2008, 5:37 GMT)

Bottomline is the English players did not behave, or perform like professionals.The English press was worse.Unfortunately it pains me to say the English are becoming the French,having lost their world status,they now lash out at anything and everyone.They could not even stand up for cricket in the 2012 Olympics.

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