The South Africans have taken Twenty20 cricket to significantly new heights and fostered an interest that has meant both great entertainment and revenues at the same time.
Allen Stanford has taken to the Twenty20 version of the game and rolled out megabucks in his competition held solely at his cricket facility in Antigua. The ICC, not to be outdone quickly, saw the opportunity and introduced the Twenty20 World Cup.
That the first edition of the Twenty20 World Cup was held in South Africa in the very same year as the One Day Cricket World Cup and prove a resounding success, actually captivating the audiences and glossing over the embarrassment that was the CWC2007, must say something about its attractiveness, appeal and income generating capacity.
Stanford has recognised this from the very beginning and hence his keen interest in having a one-off match between a West Indies representative team and one of the world’s leading teams. His second edition proved to be better organised and seemed to have attracted far more international interest and appeal than the first.
The WICB has once more lost out here. It has had to virtually lie prostrate before Stanford’s entrepreneurial venture into the game of cricket, a game he seems yet to fully understand in all its complexity. What seems to matter to him is that he has found a comfortable niche for his economic undertaking while at the same time apparently fulfilling his philanthropic interests.
The WICB has been left at the starting gates. Whatever attempts the Board may now make to creep into the Twenty20 version of the game would probably now have to be at the behest of the Stanford Empire and there is little chance of the philanthropy eagerly yielding the cash cow to the benefit of the WICB’s treasury.
The embarrassment here is that the WICB remains lacklustre in its planning. There remains an acute absence of vision and it is unfortunate that always the Board has suggested that its blinkered movement is necessitated by dwindling coffers.