The winners of the Twenty20 Cup at the Rose Bowl on Saturday are set to join in Allen Stanford's winner-takes-all bonanza in Antigua in November, as county cricket anticipates the biggest single payday in its history.
Twenty20 Finals Day gets underway this Saturday, where there is expected to be an additional incentive for the four teams involved - Kent, Essex, Durham and Middlesex. Whoever lifts the cup 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.
According to a report in The Daily Mail, Stanford will offer each member of the county £30,000 for their efforts, but only if they win. 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.
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.
At his Rose Bowl press conference, Stanford is also expected to confirm details of the annual three-nation Twenty20 challenge that is set to be staged at Lord's from 2009. England and West Indies will be regular competitors, with one other nation invited to make up the numbers each year.