Friday 11th August, 2006

 

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Stanford’s 20/20 vision

By Dr Nigel Camacho

A reader of Cascade

It has been very interesting hearing all the different perspectives on the Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournament currently underway in Antigua, both positive and negative. However, whatever side of the fence you sit on, the tournament has made its mark and there will be tremendous interest in the finals this weekend.

Never has there been so much at stake (financially) in any sporting event in this part of the world. Say what you like, this cannot be a bad thing.

The purist argues that this shortened version of the game is not the real thing and can ruin the techniques of many a young player, so what? This is all about entertainment and exposure, simple as that.

Test cricket has survived for more than 100 years and is here to stay. There is no doubt this is the real thing and still remains the most intriguing team sport played on this planet. The problem with Test cricket is that, being five days long, very few people can afford to see an entire match.

Test cricket is fast becoming a TV sport which people can tune into when they have the opportunity (or the interest). I myself am a Test cricket addict and will be the first to admit that during a Test match there are periods of play that carry very little entertainment value to the non-fan.

To the purist, like a chess game, this is poetry in motion; to non-cricketing person, it’s akin to watching grass grow.

One-day cricket has been around since the early 1970s and it, too, is here to stay. It has much more action than Test cricket especially in the dying stages of a close run chase.

Test cricket can also have its very exciting periods of play, however, the chance of fireworks and action are tenfold more in one-day cricket, hence its popularity amongst the non-traditional cricket fans.

This 20/20 cricket is all about fireworks from ball one. We, the purist, are selfish, hence the reluctance to accept this “watered down version” of the game. However, as long as Stanford is here to put money where his mouth is, 20/20 is probably here to stay.

Regional administrators may argue if Stanford is so interested in cricket, why doesn’t he put some of that money into Test cricket. The answer, unfortunately, is simple: just look at the books of the WICB. Which businessman in his right mind would want to invest his money in a losing cause.

Test cricket is expensive to run and, unless you are collecting overseas TV revenue, you will always be in the red. Let’s face it, the West Indies’ team performances over the past decade has not inspired much overseas interest, Brian Lara apart.

So Stanford has invested his money in a game that you can go watch after work as evening entertainment, under lights. What’s so wrong with that? Mr Stanford has gathered together all the former greats, something the WICB has never done, or cannot afford to do. He has put in place a top-of-the-line TV production, 22 cameras, top commentary and a world-class facility. What’s so wrong with that?

People will argue that he is a billionaire and has the money to do so. However, you know what? He didn’t have to and he has. Hats off to him for trying.

The WICB is responsible for the development of young Test cricketers, not Mr Stanford. What he has done, though, is introduce the likes of young Kieron Powell (Nevis), Chesney Hughes (Anguilla), William Perkins and Kieron Pollard (T&T), all possible future stars of West Indies Test cricket.

Cricket is perhaps the greatest sport on the face of the earth, the only sport where three different versions of the same game are played at an international level.

The 20/20 game is approximately three hours in duration and it compares closer to North American professional sports (baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey).

In the modern world, the average person’s leisure time is much less than in the old days and, as such, very precious. Simple equation: cricket (a Caribbean passion) plus money (lots of it) plus three hours equals winner (success).

Without being chauvinistic, Test cricket is like a beautiful woman in a lovely evening dress; 20/20 is this woman in a bikini. It’s bound to turn some heads as 20/20 is sexy cricket. Well played, Mr Stanford. Good luck to you with this very interesting venture.

Like the great pioneer before you, the late Kerry Packer, may your actions change the face of cricket forever, for the better, in this part of the world and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

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