The row over Stanford 20/20 and Pakistan tour dates August 22, 2006

Cricketers caught in the middle

Mike King



A debate rages on as to whether the inaugural 20/20 tournament was developmental for West Indies cricket © Getty Images

Once again, West Indies cricketers have been caught in the middle of a row that is no fault of their own. Such seems to be the case after billionaire Allen Stanford made it known that the US$5 million Stanford 20/20 Super Stars match between West Indies and South Africa, slated for November 10, would be scrapped if the team was weakened by the withdrawal of West Indies players for the simultaneous tour of Pakistan.

Why should players have to make the choice between a West Indies cricket tour of Pakistan or playing in the lucrative Stanford 20/20 Super Stars match? Why can't the players have the best of both worlds? It is unfortunate that a supposedly trivial issue such as the clashing of dates has the potential to create another impasse in our cricket that has indirectly led to the resignation of Clive Lloyd from the Stanford 20/20 board of directors.

While debate rages on as to whether the inaugural 20/20 tournament was developmental for West Indies cricket, the financial incentives for our players and the resurgence in spectator appeal was most welcomed. With the Pakistanis not in the most accommodating mood to revisit the itinerary, the players will be caught between playing for pride and peanuts or a heavy one-off pay day.

Where does Lloyd, who is a member of the West Indies Cricket Board, now stand in the midst of all this? Lloyd said if any of the players were selected for the West Indies for the tour of Pakistan, they would be replaced in the Super Stars squad.

Stanford obviously saw it differently. When you are investing millions of dollars, you want the best and nothing but the best. Now Lloyd has resigned and it will be interesting to see if the other legends follow suit. Lloyd seemed to have been saying that if push came to shove, West Indies cricket should be given priority and no one should question a former Test great having that view. There is a school of argument that Lloyd and others with key roles in West Indies cricket, such as Gordon Greenidge and Andy Roberts, should have distanced themselves from the 20/20 board.

On another note, it was a little puzzling that CBC, which so often boasts of being the Caribbean's best connection, would miss the opportunity to televise the 20/20 final between Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana live after there was so much excitement in the air created by the novelty of the game.