Stanford~~s million-dollar offer for Aussie cricketers

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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St John's (Antigua and Barbuda): Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, who believes IPL is no competition to his Stanford 20/20, intends to lure the Aussie cricketers with a whopping US$20 million offer for a few hours' work in the Caribbean next year.

And Stanford, judging by his recent effort to gain permission from the United States Government to do business with Havana so he can add Cuba to his regional tournament next year, usually gets his way.

The International Cricket Council had expressed concern about Stanford's previous proposal of a quadrangular Twenty20 tournament. Now his latest concept pitches the Australians against an all-star team from around the West Indies playing for a winner-takes-all prize of $US20 million.

India refused a similar invitation after winning the Twenty20 world championship in Sept and has since trumped Stanford by launching the fully franchised IPL, which the Texan suggested tapped into the mercenary instincts of the modern sportsman. By contrast, he is adamant that in Stanford 2020, the domestic competition involving 21 Caribbean nations, cricketers will represent only their own islands.

And he declared the IPL would not distract him from his ambition to gain global exposure by tempting a leading country into a shootout.

While many of the Australian IPL stars are not expected to play in the tournament next year because of tour commitments, Stanford may see an opportunity for a flying visit around the time of the Ashes tour next June.

He is yet to hold formal talks with the boards of Australia or England about either country's availability.

"If enough players in Australia or England or India know they have a chance to come down here to the Caribbean and … walk away, each one of them, with millions of dollars in their pocket, I think it will probably happen," Sydney Morning Herald  quoted Stanford as saying.

"All this junk I had to go through in the beginning … well, the project is too big now. So I think next year it is absolutely certain to happen," said the Antigua-born Stanford

"I invited the winner (Twenty20 world champions) to come over here and play first for $5 million and then I said, 'I'll give you $10 million'. BCCI said, 'No, we don't want to do that, because it would be endorsing a privately funded program', and look what they've done …

"What I eventually want to have is what I call 'the OK Corral'. Anytime, any place, you come to our field and play one game, Twenty20, for $20 million. The best of our players against your team."


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