All set for 20 million dollar showdown

Published: Saturday, November 1, 2008, 1:43 [IST]
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Who wants to be a millionaire? That's the US 20 million-dollar question the players on both the Stanford Superstars and England teams are being asked to consider ahead of their Stanford Twenty20 match on Saturday at the Stanford Cricket Ground here.

Months of publicity, planning, and preparation are expected to come to an exciting conclusion, when the two teams take to the field for what represents the richest team prize for a single sporting match.

This brings to a close the Stanford Super Series which is the result of a cooperative agreement between Sir Allen Stanford, an American business tycoon, as well as the England and Wales Cricket Board, and the West Indies Cricket Board.

It featured six matches that also involved Trinidad and Tobago, who prevailed over Middlesex on Wednesday in the Champions Cup by five wickets to pocket 280,000 dollars.

Trinidad and Tobago are the reigning Stanford Twenty20 Cup champions of the Caribbean, and Middlesex are the reigning English County Twenty20 champions.

Now, the Stanford Superstars, a team selected from the best of the best of the Stanford Twenty20 Cup competitions under the captaincy of Chris Gayle, and the full-fledged England team under the leadership of Kevin Pietersen, have a chance to become "instant millionaires."

Their historic match guarantees each playing member of the winning side one million dollars to be shared between the 12th man and other non-playing squad members, and a further one million dollars among the management team.

The remaining prize money of seven million dollars was to be shared equally between the ECB and the WICB, but the legal battle which Digicel, the major sponsors of West Indies cricket fought over their rights and entitlements in the series, may deny the Caribbean governing body their split.

Though their opponents have decided to keep their side close to their chests, England have broken the bad news to James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Alastair Cook, and Ryan Sidebottom that they - unfortunately - missed the cut.

The England team selectors decided that Graeme Swann's leg-spin bowling was a necessity - and not a luxury - considering that the Stanford pitch has been typically low and slow in the previous five matches in the Super Series.

Pietersen acknowledged it was probably one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make in the brief period he has been England captain.

"It was never going to be the easiest decision," he said. "In fact, it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in terms of carrying 11 players on the field.

"It has been very difficult for him [Anderson], especially being an integral part of the team for the past 12 months, but he has taken it brilliantly well, and he has been absolutely fantastic at training.

"We haven't played a second spinner for I don't know how long, but unfortunately conditions have meant Jimmy has to miss out.

"We realise that we play to win for England, and unfortunately, the circumstances have arisen in terms of the pitch, and the outfield, and the way games have gone. We have to play another spinner."

Of the other three, Bopara and Cook were not under realistic consideration, and Sidebottom's chances were scuppered by a calf injury.

Stanford Superstars (from): Chris Gayle (captain), Sylvester Joseph (vice captain), Lionel Baker, Sulieman Benn, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Lennox Cush, Travis Dowlin, Rayad Emrit, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Chad Hampson, Lindon James, Dave Mohammed, Kieron Pollard, Daren Powell, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor.

England team

Kevin Pietersen (capt), Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Samit Patel, Matt Prior (wk), Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

Umpires: Simon Taufel, Rudi Koertzen, TV Replays: Steve Davis, Reserve: Asad Rauf. Match referee: Jeff Crowe.

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