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ECB plans Stanford Series review

Sir Allen Stanford and England captain Kevin Pietersen
England are questioning how Stanford (left) has run his tournament

England cricket chiefs are to carry out a review of the $20m Stanford Super Series, BBC Sport understands.

The Twenty20 tournament has attracted criticism for its poor floodlights and slow wicket as well as American backer Sir Allen Stanford's conduct.

"I'm hearing there are serious concerns from the ECB at the manner in which the tournament has been staged," said BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.

The ECB signed a lucrative deal with Stanford last June for five matches.

But the inaugural winner-takes-all series has been marred by controversy since it began last weekend.

MCC chief Keith Bradshaw has concerns about the 'dignity' of cricket in this series

Stanford was forced to apologise for his behaviour during England's opening victory over Middlesex on Sunday after he was pictured with Matt Prior's wife seated on his lap and his arms around other wives and girlfriends.

Captain Kevin Pietersen then expressed concern about the standard of the pitch and the floodlights at the Antigua ground built by Stanford.

England will face the Stanford Superstars - led by West Indies star Chris Gayle - in a showpiece finale on Saturday, a match which will see each member of the winning team become an instant dollar millionaire.

We will be fine for Saturday - Pietersen

But a stomach bug, which has sidelined four England players, has further dampened spirits with Pietersen saying he "wants to get [the week] over with".

All-rounder Andrew Flintoff, meanwhile, referring to the incident involving Stanford and the wives and girlfriends, told BBC 5 Live: "It was quite bizarre, wasn't it?

"I think he's accepted he was out of order, he's apologised and we move on from there."

West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, who will figure for the Superstars, added Stanford would not have meant to cause offence, and that he "generally just tries to be nice to everyone".

Team-mate Paul Collingwood, Pietersen's predecessor as one-day captain, said he did not know what aspects of the week in Antigua the ECB review would focus on.

"From our point of view, it's run pretty smoothly. The facilities we've had to practice and to train in have been excellent.

MIHIR BOSE BLOG

"It's a great venue. Obviously, in an ideal situation the pitch would play a bit better and the lights would be a bit better, but apart from that we feel it's been run pretty well," he said.

Batsman Ian Bell, however, expressed concern that the trip had taken attention away from the forthcoming tour to India.

"In a way, this week probably has come a little bit at the wrong time before we go and play a really good team in India," he told BBC Sport.

"Momentum is something we have been building over the last two months, and with the Ashes around the corner next year we want to build on that and stay on the path that we have been going on under KP.

"We need to put in some hard yards there when we get to India and hopefully this week is not going to distract anyone from doing that."

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
As part of the Stanford agreement, the ECB and West Indies Cricket Board receive a $3.5m payout each year

If, therefore, the deal was cancelled, it would cost both boards a minimum of $14m - but the ECB insists that a review is standard procedure after every series.

Stanford has also been invited to field a team in the ECB's planned domestic Twenty20 league next summer, but Agnew says the inaugural Stanford Series may cause the ECB to think again.

"The impression has been given that he's been using it as a play thing, rather than a serious cricketing week, which is what the ECB had in mind when it signed up for this.

"So the ECB [will be] seeking assurances that any future tournaments will be staged rather differently from this one," he added.

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see also
Six balls for $20m
29 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Stanford Super Series fixtures
29 Oct 08 |  Cricket
England hold nerve to clinch win
28 Oct 08 |  England
Antigua lights concern Pietersen
27 Oct 08 |  England
Stanford backs IPL participation
27 Oct 08 |  Cricket
New-look English Twenty20 agreed
16 Jul 08 |  Counties


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