Stanford’s Money talks Cricket

Of course the backward-thinking West Indies Cricket Board was caught flatfooted. It somehow managed to have Alvin Kallicharan, easily one of the finest batsmen to grace the field of play, to stay on and be adorned with the captaincy, only to be marginalised for Clive Lloyd, the captain of the Packer version of the West Indies team, once the so-called Packer West Indies rebels returned to the traditional fold.
Of course the West Indies players were able to emerge from the Packer series well paid and it did not take them long to establish a West Indies Players Association in keeping with what they were seeing among the leading test playing nations in order to protect the rights of the players called up to represent the institution.
Packer brought to the sport a number of innovations that are still in place today and which have improved the quality of the game.
In hindsight many have credited Packer with having advanced the sport of cricket beyond anything that the deadpan ICC and its affiliates seemed able to do on their own.
Allen Stanford is now being seen as the Kerry Packer of the modern era. That remains questionable.
Stanford appears to have begun his interest in Caribbean cricket by creating his own cricket arena in the vicinity of what many seem to think is his small empire in Antigua and Barbuda. In this arena he established the fashionable Sticky Wicket facility that was an innovation as far as the facilities-starved Caribbean is concerned.
Stanford then got the jump on the West Indies Cricket Board when he established his West Indies Cricket Hall of Fame and involved former West Indies players in the process of the annual selection of nominees to the newly-created institution. He also involved the cricket lovers of the region.
Stanford then created his Twenty20 Caribbean tournament and involved teams from countries that have not been traditionally associated with the game like Bermuda, the Bahamas, US Virgin islands and the British Virgin Islands.
The immediate main attraction of the Stanford Twenty20 competition was the size of the winners’ purse and the fact that in each match monies were being thrown out for the Best Catch, the Man of the Match, the likes of which had never been seen in any version of the game in the region.
One can easily hazard a guess that had the West Indies Cricket Board attempted to stand in Stanford’s way, we may well have seen a Packer-type breaking of the ranks amongst the players of the region. Perhaps it was a matter of the West Indies Cricket Board recognising that they really had no choice.