The Wisden Cricketer - South African Edition January 6, 2007

Our Man In Miami

Dave Papenfus
Commentator and cricket talk-show host Mike Haysman has quit his Highveld home of many years to take up a new challenge with billionaire Allen Stanford. Dave Papenfus watched him pack

Commentator and cricket talk-show host Mike Haysman has quit his Highveld home of many years to take up a new challenge with billionaire Allen Stanford. Dave Papenfus watched him pack ...

Mike Haysman has been attracted to work for Allen Stanford © The Wisden Cricketer (South Africa)
Who is Allen Stanford, Mike?
He is the man who is trying to re-invigorate West Indies cricket. He had that Twenty20 tournament at his own cricket ground in Antigua featuring 19 teams from across the Caribbean.

It all started back in the Great Depression when his grandfather started an insurance company and upon his passing left Allen $300 million. He is now the chairman of 62 companies, worth an estimated $34 billion, and has turned his inheritance into a wealth management conglomerate. He generally looks after individuals and has some high-profile clients.

He has a love for Caribbean life - he loves the people there and wants to do something for them ... and they live and die for West Indian cricket.

Because he has quite a bit of investment in the Caribbean, the motivation for that Twenty20 tournament is to bring out new talent. He has the view that when West Indies cricket is played successfully and at its best, the psyche of the West Indian people is much better, and therefore his investments will be more successful.

How did you meet him?
I commentated at the tournament and it was a pleasure to watch 100 percent pure, unadulterated cricket played with no hidden agendas. Before the tournament I was contracted by Ten Sports in Dubai to work on the South African tour to Sri Lanka. Allen Stanford liked what I was doing and heard I was leaving for Sri Lanka. He took me aside and said "You're not going!" I told him I was contracted to go and he said "You're not, we'll work this out and I'll entice you to stay". Which is in essence what he did!

A few months later I accepted the offer to go and base myself in Miami in the United States. The work will be mostly in the Caribbean but Miami is the closest city and the easiest place to get flights in and out of. So my wife and I and our three Persian cats are off to live there and I'm going to work for the next five years for Allen Stanford -- which is really exciting.

Are you emigrating?
I am not emigrating to the United States or the Caribbean. The contract is for five years and Allen Stanford himself is not exactly sure where this is going to go and how long it is going to go. After the five-year period is up I will weigh up my options.

What is going to be your role there?
He is going to make a big announcement in May 2007 (after the World Cup in the West Indies) regarding his Twenty20 tournament which will again be staged at his own ground in Antigua - and he has enormous plans, particularly for Antigua.

I will be involved in all his events and also doing a weekly television show for him in the Caribbean, probably based out of the US Virgin Islands. In essence it's not going to be too much different from what I have been doing in South Africa for the last nine-and-a-bit years. I am not sure that the venue can be much better and throwing an anchor down in Miami can't be too bad either!

Is it going to be largely media work or a fair amount of logistics and organising?
I will be involved in the organising as well -- which was enticing, and also a new challenge for me. I will be on the board of the Stanford Twenty20 with some of the West Indies legends and will be involved in the planning and organising of some of the events. Will you be working with a group of people out of offices in Miami? I will basically be based at home. My work will primarily be when I travel in the Caribbean which is probably going to be something like 10 to 12 days a month.

You will be there around the World Cup. Will you be involved in that in any way?
No, not at all. I will be working behind the scenes with stuff Allen Stanford wants to do, but I have already checked it out and there are two cable stations in the States who will be showing the World Cup so I won't miss a ball, I promise you.

What is (Haysman's wife) Leanne going to be doing in Miami?
She has become an extremely talented fashion show producer here in South Africa and is looking to further her career in the fashion industry there.

What will you miss most about South Africa? I will miss a lot. I had some 21 years here and I met some really good friends. It's quite an emotional decision to make to leave a country. I have met some terrific people (in South Africa) - it's as simple as that, friends will be what I miss most