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July 25, 2008
The winners of the Twenty20 Cup at the Rose Bowl on Saturday will join in Allen Stanford's winner-takes-all bonanza in Antigua in November, as county cricket prepares for the biggest single payday in its history.
David Collier, the ECB's chief executive, believes that Stanford's involvement can take county cricket to another level. It gives the domestic champions a taste of international action as the ultimate victors from this Saturday's Twenty20 Finals Day will take on Trinidad & Tobago, the 2008 Stanford 20/20 champions, ahead of the £10million winner-takes-all match between Stanford's All Stars team against England.
"It's a great opportunity for the champions to play Trinidad and Tobago," Collier said. "A real opportunity to link the domestic game with international game." Kent, Essex, Durham and Middlesex are the four teams vying for the prize.
Richie Richardson, the former West Indies captain, added: "It's going to create interest and enthusiasm that's been lacking in West Indies cricket."
Collier also confirmed that there would be no appearance fees on offer for England players in their winner-takes-all clash. This will not help to dispel the players' fears of potential rifts in the camp which is why they had wanted the appearance fees.
The tantalising offer will go some way towards compensating the counties if the proposed Champions League, which is due to feature the two teams that contest the final, fails to take place.
At present, the Champions League proposal is on the rocks due to the insistence of the host board, the BCCI, that the counties will be disqualified if they include players from the "rebel" Indian Cricket League. If Essex and Middlesex make it to the final, there will be no complications as neither side is implicated, but if Durham or Kent progress, they both have players involved.
"I'm confident it will go ahead this year," Collier told Sky Sports News. "We've had discussions during the week, I think it's well known there are some differences about rules and regulations which still have to be ironed out.
"But certainly, we are hoping for two days in the sun, not just one. This [Stanford] game is obviously a great game for the counties to go to, but we're also hoping they will be representing us in the Champions League as well."
Stanford's intervention, however, increases the possibility that the ECB will simply walk away from the proposal, and seek further money-making opportunities with their billionaire benefactor.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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