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Page last updated at 22:10 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Stanford defiant on series future

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Sir Allen Stanford has come under fire for his behaviour in recent days

Sir Allen Stanford is confident his Super Series will continue in the future despite concerns the venture is "against the spirit of cricket".

Former England and Wales Cricket Board chief Lord McLaurin labelled Saturday's $20m match a "pantomime" and "obscene".

But Stanford told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I don't think the ECB has a problem and I certainly don't have any problems."

He also said players' concerns over the state of the floodlights and the pitch would be resolved before Saturday.

Players have complained of poor visibility under the lights in Antigua and several catches have been dropped in the warm-up games.

The quality of the pitch has also been questioned but Stanford said: "We are taking the grass right down so it will play much faster and we are putting in a hard pitch.

"The light issue will all be resolved for this game. There will not be any light issues whatsoever. The magnitude of this match is such that we are going to address the issues; we know what they are."

I sat down, she had nowhere to sit, so she plopped down on my lap

Sir Allen Stanford on the players' wives controversy
Stanford has endured a difficult few days, coming under fire for being pictured sitting among the players' partners, with Matt Prior's pregnant wife Emily on his lap.

McLaurin believes Saturday's game, in which England play the Stanford Super Stars with each member of the winning side earning $1m, is "almost burlesquing cricket".

"To have these huge rewards for one match is, to my mind, just stupid," said Lord McLaurin.

"My view as a traditionalist is that Twenty20 has a place, but this sort of pantomime cricket doesn't. This sort of thing is just obscene, especially with the financial state the country is in."

England players' chief Sean Morris has also branded the event a "garden party" after listening to concerns from the players.

"It really boils down to turning up and coming out on a wicket which isn't really suitable for international cricket," said Morris.

"That gives you the feeling you are turning up to a bit of a garden party, which shouldn't really be the case with England cricket.

"There is a sensation that the game has been devalued in terms of a contest - because there is a little bit of luck involved with this wicket.

"That, mirrored with a couple of other things off the field, have created a feeling that it is not entirely the most professional event they have attended."

But ex-England all-rounder Ian Botham has little sympathy for the players.

"There's a great deal of money at stake for the winners," Botham told Talksport radio.

"It's a real bonus for the players and one they should just go out there and enjoy. It's the same for both teams. Just stop whinging and get on with it.

"There would be a lot of players who wish they could be playing in the game with the chance to win that kind of money."

Former England batsman Graham Gooch also believes the ECB has little room to complain after agreeing to a five-year deal for annual $20m with Stanford.

"England wanted a billionaire and independent backer to support their aspirations for an English Premier League in 20/20 and they went to Allen Stanford," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Therefore, it's English cricket getting on the money bandwagon and there's no free lunch I'm afraid."

Stanford believes the Super Series has a prosperous future, despite reports the ECB has "serious concerns" over the manner in which the tournament has been staged.

CRICKET BLOG
BBC Sport's Mihir Bose
"I had dinner with (ECB chief executive) David Collier on Wednesday and he didn't tell me they had any worries about what has happened so far," added Stanford.

"They are conducting a review, but they do that at the end of every series they have, it's just standard procedure.

"I don't see that the future of this agreement is in peril. (ECB chairman) Giles Clarke is here and we're going to get together on Saturday before the game and talk, but everything's fine with me and I think it is with them.

"I'm very confident we will all be back here again next year.

"When this was announced in June I was a hero; now I'm a skunk in October. Maybe I'll be a hero somewhere in between again, but cricket is changing right before our very eyes.

"I'm confident that after Saturday people will have a different opinion of what we are doing here."

Stanford has already apologised for the episode with the players' wives and girlfriends, when the 58-year-old put his arms around some of the women and was shown on the big screen at the Stanford Stadium.

He says he did not know the women were with the England players and says he did not mean to disrespect any of the players.

HOW STANFORD'S $20m IS 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

"The cameraman saw these young ladies and thought it would be a great shot of me sitting with them and us all cheering on England together," he said.

"I introduced myself and one told me she was from Los Angeles, one from New Zealand. I told them who I was, I had no idea they were with the England cricket team.

"The cameraman said we only had 30 seconds for the shot. I didn't know where to sit, so one of them got up and offered me her chair. I sat down, she had nowhere to sit, so she plopped down on my knee.

"I didn't make her, she just sat there. It lasted 25, 30 seconds, I shook their hands and left. That's it, it was just a bit of fun, no harm was intended and no disrespect to anyone.

"I have apologised to Matt and to Kevin Pietersen, I would not have done it had I known who they were.

"In the Caribbean it's different, we have fun, families come out, they bring their food and they party and I like to make sure everyone's having fun.

"Maybe it's just a cultural nuance, maybe things are just a little more stoic, reserved in England."

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see also
ECB plans Stanford Series review
29 Oct 08 |  England
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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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Guardian Unlimited Cricket: ECB to review England's participation in Stanford Super Series after negative publicity - 39 hrs ago
Sky News Tycoon Sorry Over Wags - 69 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Cricket needs Twenty20 says $20m man - 28 Oct 2008
Guardian Unlimited Cricket: Sir Allen Stanford on Twenty20 and Test cricket - 27 Oct 2008
Guardian Unlimited Twenty20 and Test cricket 'can co-exist' - 27 Oct 2008


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