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October 30, 2008
Allen Stanford has responded to the mounting criticism that his Super Series in Antigua has attracted over the past couple of days, and has told the naysayers to judge the whole concept after the series is done and dusted.
"I think you make your assessment after Saturday's game," Stanford told Cricinfo ahead of the penultimate match of the tournament between the Superstars and Middlesex. "After Saturday I think there are going to be a lot of people who are very favourably impressed by what we're doing here, and what we're doing for cricket in the Caribbean."
US$20 million may be a lot of money to pump into a single contest, but Stanford said that his intentions were three-fold. "We're doing our best to get cricket back in the Caribbean, and we're doing in a way that has a business model to make money. The third thing is, I want to have a little fun along the way."
Back in June, at the launch of the 20/20 for 20, Stanford warned that he was "not a philanthropist", and he confirmed that the regeneration of Caribbean cricket was merely a means to an end. His ultimate aim is to break the game into untapped TV markets, starting with the USA, where ESPN will broadcast the multi million-dollar match as live on Saturday night.
"To break into that market is a big deal," said Stanford, "and I think we're going to see that footprint expand very quickly into other markets that traditionally have not been exposed to cricket at all, not just the US. That's part of our plan.
"We'll be operating at about 60+ % this year, covering our costs," explained Stanford. "Next year and the third year we'll be making a good profit which will be ploughed back in to growing cricket in the Caribbean. That's my whole gameplan, nothing more, and if I can work with the English to help us facilitate this programme, for example through the Chance to Shine programme, that would be really great for getting kids into cricket. They have the expertise, I'm putting the money into place, and that's why we're working with the ECB."
The ECB, however, has given the impression in the past 24 hours that they are getting cold feet about the whole enterprise - they've been stung by the negative publicity in the British newspapers and unsettled by the unease of England's players, including Kevin Pietersen who says that he just wants the week to end. In the light of all this, the ECB has announced that they will be reviewing the deal for four more 20/20 for 20s that runs until 2012.
Stanford, however, was unfazed. "I had dinner with David Collier on my boat last night, and that process of review is something that the ECB do after every Test, ODI or Twenty20 series. There is no other thing special beyond that. I am very, very favourable in terms of how I feel things are going with the ECB and with the series so far. Saturday night will be the big determining factor for everybody."
Stanford also took the opportunity to reiterate his apology to the England camp after the episode involving Matt Prior's wife, Emily, on Sunday. "Let me tell you the way that came about," he said. "The cameraman said he'd found a great place to sit, with five beautiful young ladies, and say 'Go go England!'"
"I asked the first lady where are you from, she said Los Angeles, another one she said New Zealand. I had no idea that they were remotely connected to the England team. If I had known, I would have walked away.
"We sat down there for 20 seconds, the girl in the middle said: 'Take my seat', I did, we all said 'Go England!' [Emily] sat down on my knee for five seconds, the camera came in and that was it. Afterwards I called Matt [Prior], I called Kevin [Pietersen], and said no disrespect was intended. They accepted my apology, and that was it. Period."
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