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Is England cricket now Stanford’s WAG?

There’s a rather comical culture clash now being played out in the West Indies, between new money and cricket:

Senior ECB officials, who almost bent over backwards to welcome Stanford and his millions at Lord’s last summer, were also under fire with calls for them to stand down after failing to undertake adequate checks on Stanford. Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire’s chairman, told the Daily Telegraph that the position of Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, was in doubt. “I asked the ECB to do a lot more checking on Stanford and this competition. We made it very clear we that we should not enter into this agreement without proper checks but he [Clarke] had already done the deal. The board should resign collectively”.

The ECB and Stanford agreed on an unprecedented US$100 million deal in the summer, spread over five years, but the inaugural competition this week in Antigua has attracted mounting criticism in England.

The flack really started to fly on Monday when Stanford was pictured with Matt Prior’s wife on his knee and with his arms around two other girlfriends of members of the England team during a match the night before. It provoked a strong reaction from parts of the media, and in addition, one England player reportedly said: “If that was my wife he’d put on his lap I would have wanted to punch him”.

Last night’s planned cocktail party with the teams was cancelled at short notice, with officials rather unconvincingly claiming there were “logistical problems over a venue”. One journalist was unconvinced. “As if Stanford would ever have trouble in securing a venue for anything in Antigua,” he noted. “He owns most of them.”

I recall boasting here a while ago that my grandfather was the captain of his local cricket team by virtue of the fact that he owned the pitch. This was in Dingestow, which is a small village in Monmouthshire. My cousin still lives there, in the biggest house there, which is called Dingestow Court. But that’s old money. Old money pitch owners would make irrational bowling and field placing decisions, but they wouldn’t mess with other cricketer’s wives or ‘girl friends’, i.e. ladies whom other cricketers were courting.

All of this trouble in the West Indies now has arisen because of the rather sudden eruption of Twenty20 cricket. It turns out that, unlike so much of old school test cricket, people will pay large amounts of money to go and watch Twenty20, even between relatively moderate players. Suddenly cricket has become a very, very big, very twenty-first century business. And the cricket world is finding it tricky to adjust. It hit me the other day what a huge impact Twenty20 cricket is having when I half noticed (as you do when watching the telly) a TV advert for some kind of computerised or perhaps gambling-related version of soccer, which they were also calling “Twenty20”. Cricket is now featured in the sports pages of the popular press in Britain in a way that it hasn’t been for years, except during an Ashes series.

Here is some more Stanford grumbling. English cricket, says former England captain Mike Atherton, has become Stanford’s WAG.

1 comment to Is England cricket now Stanford’s WAG?

  • One of those small world observations:

    My cousins live in Dingestow. There is an excellent that some 20 odd years ago I picked up an inky Micklethwait from school along with my own younger cousin – or took him there or something. And I may have played tennis at Dingestow Court unless I’m mixing it up with another largish pile in the neighbourhood.