September 24, 2011

West Indies

Who is Allen Stanford?

Andrew Hughes
Young ballerinas in Coventry, September 2, 2011
Participants in New Zealand's youth programme for spinners  © Getty Images
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Wednesday, 21st September One day, perhaps one day soon, my daughter may come up to me and ask, with the innocent curiosity of the seven-year-old:

“Daddy, why are England playing the West Indies at the wrong end of September in a couple of Twenty20 matches that are entirely without context?”

To which I will obviously reply that it is because of a man called Allen Stanford.

“Daddy, who is Allen Stanford?”

How should I explain? I could say that he was a generous benefactor of undeniably Texan persuasion with a vibrant tan, a manly moustache and a healthy touch of megalomania. I could say that he was a great friend of English cricket who helped us defy the might of the BCCI. Or I could swear blind I’d never heard of the chap.

But I’m not Giles Clarke, so those options are out. I could refer her to the comments of the US regulators who stated that Stanford perpetrated “a fraud of shocking magnitude” (and they know a thing or two about frauds of shocking magnitude, those US regulators.) Or maybe I could tell her what Andy Roberts, all-time great fast bowler, today said of the egregious founder of the Magic Bank of Stanford:

“He had the money, he had a plan and it was working.”

Which is true to an extent. But the money was other people’s and his plan was not to get caught. It was indeed working for quite some time. And then he got caught. England’s legacy is a couple of extra games a year. In the West Indies they are already talking nostalgically about a man who perpetrated a fraud of shocking magnitude. Which is perhaps the saddest part of the whole sorry episode.

Wednesday, 22nd September A few days into the job and Kim Littlejohn’s research is going well. He picked up the 2011-12 Black Cap Sticker Album at Auckland Airport and has been seen regularly popping into John Buchanan’s Newsagent and Philosophical Grocery Store to bulk purchase packets of stickers. So far he has 17 Brendon McCullums and half a dozen Ross Taylors, but he’s missing a Tim Southee and he doesn’t know what Daniel Vettori looks like because his pet hamster chewed that one.

But I wish him well and I wonder whether the experiment could be extended. If the national selection manager doesn’t need to know anything about cricket, is it absolutely necessary that the players do? Have New Zealand been missing a trick by restricting places in their national cricket team to professional cricketers? Surely it’s just a matter of identifying transferable skills. Jugglers in the slips, gymnasts in the covers, javelin throwers for fast bowlers, and golfers for batsmen.

Thursday, 23rd September Well, that was jolly entertaining. The West Indies, in the absence of half a team had sent over some of the members of their inter-island Agricultural XI. Johnson Charles (an excellent take on a rather dull name, like wearing a trilby back to front) had brought his scything blade of thunder and Dwayne Smith his shovel of iron destiny and both swung merrily like drunken farmers at harvest time. Poor Tim Bresnan looked like a volunteer from the audience who’d been invited on stage only to be hit repeatedly over the head with a frying pan.

Bang! Swipe! Crash! Pow! It was like one of those 1960s episodes of Batman, but without the tights. And for the first time ever, I began to wonder whether Australia’s decision to call their own Twenty20 thingy the Big Bash wasn’t just alliterative PR stupidity, but a profound insight. Big. Bash. Doesn’t that say it all? Or have I had one glass too many? But let no one say that Twenty20 is not authentic. Three hundred years ago, long before the Victorians got their hands on our game, this is the cricket Londoners were watching: raw, raucous, chaotic and as subtle as a Dwayne Smith leg-clearing bottom-handed shellacking over midwicket.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by danoz on (November 22, 2011, 11:52 GMT)

the icc should fund the stanford 20/20 comp in the west indies with all the money cricket makes it should invest in the west indies. the best thing about the stanford 20/20 is it expanded the west indies playing base to new parts of the carribean.

the leeward & winward were split up so every nation state represented themselves and countries like the bahamas were included.

instead of just the traditional carribean cricket playing countries, the stamford 20/20 made the whole carribean eligiable for west indies cricket.

instead of the lesser islands of the carribean competing in icc affilate comps they should included in the west indies domestic comp for 20/20 & 50/50 cricket and when thier standard improves they can play 4 day cricket.

i would include suriname,cuba,bahamas,belize,haiti & other islands of the leeward & winward island like guadeloupe,saint martin,virgin island and the caymen islands.

you would increase the whole carribean to supply talent for the west indies

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (September 27, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

Thanks all, for your comments

Arron, the agricultural XI did indeed teach the boys XI a few things. Two very entertaining games.

Serchers and Jason, maybe I could have thrown in an extra allegedly but I think I'm on fairly safe ground quoting the US regulators.

Peter, your arguments are ingenious and I think you should forward them to the Stanford legal team immediately

Posted by Arron Fraser on (September 25, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

So, Andrew I guess the "agricultural XI" still have a couple of lessons to teach like defending 113. Yes indeed sugar grows better in the West Indies - enjoying the sweetness of this victory.

Posted by Serchers on (September 24, 2011, 21:07 GMT)

Stick to cricket reporting and not subjects that are factually incorrect. Allen Stanford is still an innocent man. If, in time they can prove that he's guilty then fair enough, throw the book at him. But he hasn't even gone to trial yet.

The way that this case has been handled (is it typical of American justice ?) is incredible. In most countries there is sufficient evidence, followed by charges and a trial, then hopefully a conviction. In this case he's been jailed for 2.5 years and hasn't been able to defend himself in court.

I wouldn't normally care two hoots if he's found guilty or not. But what if, after all this he's actually found to be innocent ? Perhaps this is unlikely but the legal process stinks.

Don't mock him until we have the facts.

Posted by Peter Anderson on (September 24, 2011, 15:51 GMT)

What Allen Stanford did was just as 'legal' as what the Europeans did when they colonized the World: took things that did not belong to them in the name of 'civilization'. The problem with Mr. Stanford's act is that he did not invest in the United States of America and, hence, his 'crime'. What Mr. Stanford did was of benefit to a large number of people outside of the United States of America: there lies the problem! You see, no matter how you try to progress by helping others who need it badly, if a certain powerful entity does not endorse it then you will be in BIG trouble. Yes, ALL of the people whom Mr Stanford 'swindled' out of their money were wealthy individuals who never used their money to help others other their immediate family membership. The people whom Mr Stanford help needed the money more! I am certain that, given a few more years, he would have come up with the money to repay his clients. He was not given the chance to do so!

Posted by Andrew'sNewBest Friend on (September 24, 2011, 13:20 GMT)

Erm.... very nice Andrew, but I think your sub-headline days-of-the-week need teletransporting to a more appropriate time. I thank you.

Posted by JasonR on (September 24, 2011, 12:22 GMT)

Innocent till proven guilty. You could, at least, have thrown in the normally obligatory 'allegedly'.

Posted by Shamal Jayakody on (September 24, 2011, 10:35 GMT)

This is a good article.

Posted by Halford on (September 24, 2011, 9:56 GMT)

good article... the pic made me laugh for like 5 mins...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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