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Six balls for $20m

Stanford Super Series, Antigua
All games start at 2130 GMT (BBC commentary details in brackets):
30 Oct: Stanford Superstars v Middlesex (BBC London website)
1 Nov: Stanford Superstars v England (BBC Radio 5 Live)

By Oliver Brett

Gough bowling for England against Australia in 2005
Gough tried all sorts of tactics as a bowler in one-day internationals
Darren Gough, England's leading wicket-taker in limited-overs internationals, will be just one of millions of cricket fans intrigued by what the US$20m Stanford Series grand finale on Saturday night might bring.

He knows that half the excitement for the spectator will be watching how the possibility of winning serious money - or going home without a cent - will affect the performances of the main protagonists in Antigua.

As if the pressure of playing a match inside a 40-over timeframe was not big enough, now the money on offer - US$1million (620,000) for each player on the winning side, nothing for the losers - will crank up the agony.

But the man who has to bowl the final over - a job Gough once had as his own in the England side - shoulders the heaviest burden of all.

"It's a great occasion and it's great that this sort of money has come into the game," says Gough.

"I think it will be a good thing to watch and the pressure on each player is going to be amazing. There's going to be a lot of pressure on whoever's bowling that last over and I'd love to be doing it.

How the Stanford $20m will be split
The 11 winning players will receive $1m each
The four remaining members of the winning squad will share $1m
The winning back-room staff members will share $1m
The ECB and WICB will each receive $3.5m
"Whatever England are feeling the Stanford Superstars will be feeling the same. It will probably mean more to the West Indies boys. I don't feel sorry for the England lads - they've got plenty of cash. I think the Superstars are under more pressure because they might never get another chance to earn that kind of money."

Gough, who launches his DVD Gough's Gaffes on 24 November, talks BBC Sport through three final over scenarios...

SCENARIO ONE - 12 to win, settled batsman on strike, tail-ender at the other end, batting side has two wickets in hand

I've got four guys on the edge of the ring - extra-cover, mid-wicket, short fine-leg and backward point. All I'm thinking about is getting the batsman down to the other end, so I'll settle for giving away a single - though obviously a dot-ball's even better.

He knows he needs a boundary in the first three balls so as a bowler I've got to try to out-think him. So I'm thinking to myself - "do I bowl a slower ball or a bouncer? What's the best odds? Does he sweep?" If the bloke sweeps fast bowlers - and there are some that can do it, like Durham's Gareth Breese - it makes it even harder, because then you've got to bring long-off or long-on up.

Fielding settings graphic
Four fielders must be inside the dotted circle; Gough favours setting 1 for most specialist batsmen, with fine leg up and long off back (both marked with blue dots). Setting 2 (with fine leg on the boundary and mid-off inside the circle) is for less accomplished batsmen and specialist sweepers
Key: W=wicketkeeper, SFL=short fine leg, FL=fine leg, DSL=deep square leg, MW=midwicket, LOn=long-on, B=bowler, MOff=mid-off, LOff=long-off, EC=extra cover, DP=deep point, BP=backward point, TM=third man

If I can avoid giving away that boundary, and I get the other fellow on strike, then it's straightforward - yorker - and I'm aiming at off-stump. Most people follow the batsman if he moves about in his crease, but I am just aiming to hit off-stump because if he misses I've got him.

If he gets a bat on it, and it's a good yorker, he might squeeze two runs at the most. But when it's a new batsman, fine leg always goes back - you don't want to see an inside edge scuttling down to the boundary. That means I have to have mid-off up inside the ring.

If it's down to 11 needed off five balls I probably wouldn't be risking a slower ball, but if I am putting a slower ball in it must be outside off-stump, a good foot outside off-stump, because if he's deep in the crease he has to drag it and could hit it up in the air.

SCENARIO TWO - 16 to win. Two good batsmen in, both settled, batting side has three wickets in hand

In this scenario, every ball is a yorker because the batsmen know they have to hit boundaries. There are no slower balls, no bouncers because you know a top-edged pull can go for six - even the low full-tosses with the power of the bats these days can disappear.

You have to take your hat off to anyone who bowls at the death. I've learnt to be very, very good at it, but it's getting harder and harder for the bowler because batsmen are so good at working out what the bowler's trying to do. Whatever a batting side needs there's always a chance, and batting sides believe that.

As a bowler you are so nervous when the batting side need anything between 12 and 14 from the final over. You only really become favourite when it's down to 10 wanted off two. If it's eight wanted off the last ball you still can't relax because if you bowl a no-ball that's two extra runs and you have to bowl the extra one. I've done it and other bowlers have done it and in any last-over scenario it makes a big, big difference.

SCENARIO THREE - 8 to win. Bowling at 10 and 11, one wicket in hand

In most teams everybody down to number 11 can clear the ropes what with the size of bat they have - and they all know how to hit the ball. It's happened this year time and time again. So you've always got to be on the ball, even bowling at numbers 9, 10 and 11.

As you run up to bowl, you have to focus on something. Some people look at the top of the stumps, I don't believe in that. I always look at where I'm going to bowl it.

You can tell when a bowler's nervous. He rushes. He will get down to his mark and will turn and go straight off again. You must always try to compose yourself. I always used to pause if I had to bowl a big, big ball, and try to visualise what I wanted to happen. As a captain you can teach them to do that but when the situation comes they just see a red mist and turn off. Then you've had it.

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see also
Stanford's 20/20 for $20m
22 Oct 08 |  Cricket
England hold nerve to clinch win
28 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Stanford Super Series fixtures
20 Sep 08 |  Cricket
Gough in talks over IPL contract
30 Sep 08 |  Cricket

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