Pietersen wary of being stumped by Stanford cash

Published: Friday, October 24, 2008, 17:38 [IST]
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Kevin Pietersen may have been insisting the winner-takes-all-clash Twenty20 clash against the Stanford Super Stars in Antigua next week wasn't about the money but, unlike his extraordinary reverse hits, few would have been fooled by the England captain.

After all, this was a game which Texan billionaire Allen Stanford promoted by flying into Lord's in his personal helicopter and then unveiling a perspex box full of cash to give the assembled media an exact idea of what he meant by "Twenty20 for 20 (million dollars)".

Members of the winning side stand to pocket a million dollars (570,000 pounds) - a staggering sum for a single fixture by cricket standards - with the losers not getting a penny from Stanford.

And if the England players think that is a life changing sum for them, which it is, imagine what it means for their less well-off Caribbean counterparts.

Anyone still in any doubt in credit-crunch Britain about the significance of this match, which will be played at Stanford's own ground, need only look at the television adverts plugging satellite broadcaster Sky television's coverage of the game.

There they will see David Lloyd, the former England player and coach turned commentator, talking against a backdrop of disappearing boxes of cash.

While some will think about what they would do with a million dollars, many a club player might well wonder about what it would mean to drop a million dollars, not just for himself but for his team-mates too.

Organizers have tried to remove similar pressure from the umpires by insisting that, contrary to practice in full internationals, they will be able to make use of television replays for all contentious decisions in the six Stanford Super Series matches - English county Middlesex and Trinidad and Tobago will provide warm-up opposition for the main acts, starting with the island's match against the Super Stars on Saturday.

Some years ago Bobby Robson, the former England football manager who is also a keen cricket fan, commenting upon slipping standards of on-field behaviour in sport, stressed it was important those involved realised the "game is worth more than the prize".

But what happens when the game is the prize, and the associated opportunities it gives Stanford to promote his financial services organization?

Pietersen said he would come down hard on any player who "carries on like a clown" at a time of global economic strife.

"I have friends who are really struggling, people who have lost their jobs," said the South Africa-born shotmaker. "There is no way in the world I want people to carry on like a clown, win or lose next week, because there are a lot more things happening in the world that we want to respect.

"There will be no nonsense out there and I will be really angry if stuff does happen.

"There will be people out there with their noses up but we can't be blamed. As long as we don't mess it up by carrying on like clowns then I don't see it being as big a problem as people make it out to be."

Someone who hopes to keep Pietersen honest is his friend Chris Gayle.

The West Indies batsman will captain the Super Stars and is hoping his side will take heart from the way England upset the odds to beat South Africa in a recent one-day series.

"England won 4-0 and yes we can do it as well," said Gayle, a gifted left-handed batsman who, on his day, can pulverise any attack. "The guys are talented enough to go out there and get the job done."

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