Cup – A Winner For Windies Cricket
Yet the big question is whether the least respected form of the game by the purists will in any way benefit the overall standard of West Indies cricket notwithstanding the despicable levels the regional game has plummeted to.
Given the incentives, the interest and hype the answer should be a no-brainer.
Sole owner and tournament founder Allen Stanford had vowed his intention to regain West Indies’ position on top of world cricket when he launched the first competition in 2006, and you can be assured he is doing all the right things with the blockbuster Twenty20 extravaganza.
Proving he did not become a successful billionaire businessman by luck, Stanford ensured that generating unprecedented levels of interest within the territories was the first requirement.
And by including more teams than has ever played any type of cricket competition – 20, in the West Indies and topping it off with a million dollar first prize, Stanford grabbed the attention of not merely all the cricket fans in those parts, but almost every sports fan and many more regular citizens who never batted an eyelid when cricket was mentioned.
And by having
90 percent of the biggest name players in West Indies cricket history,
directly involved , along with widespread television and other media
coverage, Stanford did not have to wait long to acquire the most important
element - that of generating widespread interest.
Teams also have an added incentive to play well with the money Stanford is providing for them to prepare not only for the actual tournament but also for infrastructure development.
They can afford to hire coaches, trainers and physios of their choice and have the necessary warm up games. But most importantly the players from each of the 20 teams have enough, money to pay players to train,
West Indies cricket has been dying for a lack of professionalism in its domestic structure and it does not need a better push start.
Actually, the Antigua players were being paid to train with full time coaches and trainers for more than six months for the competition’s second edition.
You cannot go wrong by grooming players to become full time professionals. Players from Antigua, St Lucia and Anguilla are the biggest beneficiaries in the initial stage and the intention is to have every team fully semi-professional in the future.
The effect of Stanford’s approach is reflected in the West Indies `A' team captain Sylvester Joseph’s decision to give up on trying to regain a place on the West Indies Test squad and concentrate on Stanford Antigua team instead.
It however, is not a free-for-all where the financial rewards are concerned.
If a player does not give 100 percent in training he faces the boot. Similarly the big money prizes are not give aways as teams have to fight their way to the final to win the one million dollar winner’s bonanza or the $500,000 runners up check.
And it goes without saying that winning the $25,000 Man of the Match and $10,000 Play Of The Game prizes have to be earned.
If a player would not be motivated to work hard at fitness and attention to technique nothing else will move him.. It is only left up to the WICB to get off its haunches and have its academy up and running to develop the professional culture that is the biggest requirement to erase the shame hanging over its game presently.
The Board is supposed to have money from its World Cup hosting, so financing ought not be a problem. It should not require another plea from Clive Lloyd to have them make the academy a priority now.
Critics are arguing that the Stanford Cup’s timing is disruptive given that the Carib Cup four-day series has to make way, being split into two halves.
But unless you are a tunnel vision business driven executive of the Ansa McCall Company, producers of Carib beer, the long term sponsors of the competition, you are not a fan of West Indies cricket and its development.
West Indies players need competition more than ever regardless of the format, and they could not want any better than the benefits the Stanford Cup is bringing.
This year the series is expected to be even more competitive than the inaugural edition as all the big name teams will be at full strength.
Defending champions Guyana thus, will be hard pressed to regain the crown even if Shivnarine Chanderpaul makes himself available given his commitments to the new addition of a baby to his family in Florida.
The resurgent and talent loaded Jamaica under the inspirational Chris Gayle captaincy will be hard to beat. Runners Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados will be napping at their heels though.
team becomes one million dollars plus richer though, West Indies cricket
will be the winner from now onwards.
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