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Page last updated at 08:26 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Stanford apology to England stars

Sir Allen Stanford and Kevin Pietersen
Stanford and Pietersen share a joke before the start of the Super Series

Sir Allen Stanford has apologised for his part in an incident that upset the England players during their Super Series win against Middlesex on Sunday.

The series' backer was pictured sitting among the players' partners, with Matt Prior's wife Emily on his lap.

"He understood that the players were not particularly pleased with the incident," said a Stanford spokesman.

"He called both Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior personally and they have accepted his apology."

The incident, which involved the 58-year-old putting his arms around some of the women, was shown on the big screen at the Stanford Stadium and televised.

A number of England players, in the field at the time, found the episode inappropriate.

Stuart Broad, who was bowling at the time, said: "There were a few gobsmacked faces when it popped up on the big screen. Matt was in state of total shock, especially as his wife is pregnant."

I have not known a ground where the visibility is as bad

Shaun Udal, Middlesex captain
An England spokesman added: "As far as we are concerned, the matter is now closed."

The series culminates in Saturday night's $20m extravaganza in which England play the Stanford Super Stars - led by West Indies star Chris Gayle.

Each member of the winning side will earn $1m, currently about 640,000 following sterling's recent troubles.

But in a series of warm-up matches, criticisms have been levelled at the slow wicket, lush outfield and poor floodlights.

The result is that instead of seeing big shots and big scores, the crowd have witnessed dropped catches and low totals.

Middlesex lost the second biggest match of the week - the $280,000 Champions Cup against Trinidad and Tobago - on Monday.

Their captain, Shaun Udal, complained: "There are very difficult catching conditions out there. I have not known a ground where the visibility is as bad.

"Once the ball has gone above the lights you are just watching an area to see where it comes out of and you have to adjust accordingly."

Sir Allen, 58, a former real estate tycoon from Texas, has dual American and Antiguan citizenship. He now advises affluent investors and institutions on their finances.

He announced the Stanford Super Series in June after a meeting with the England and Wales Cricket Board at Lord's and has a plan to turn cricket into the biggest team sport in the world.

He recently told BBC Radio 5 Live that Twenty20, rather than Test cricket, was the way forward.

"The future of the game is Twenty20. At the end of the day, professional sports is unfortunately all about making money.

"It would be foolish to say that Test cricket is the only thing out there. Twenty20 will drive cricket commercially."

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see also
Stanford's 20/20 for $20m
22 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Stanford backs IPL participation
27 Oct 08 |  Cricket
England see off Middlesex threat
27 Oct 08 |  England
Antigua lights concern Pietersen
27 Oct 08 |  England
Stanford Super Series fixtures
26 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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