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Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Burnham 'uneasy' about $20m match

Kevin Pietersen
England captain Kevin Pietersen in action in the Stanford Series

Andy Burnham has criticised the controversial $20m match between England and the Stanford Superstars.

Burnham, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said the finale of the Stanford Series made him "feel slightly uneasy."

He told the Financial Times Sport Industry Summit: "I felt the occasion was something of a hollow one.

"I just think cricket fans want to watch games where national pride is at stake, not where money is at stake."

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

And England were embarrassed in the winner-takes-all match by the Superstars team, who won by 10 wickets to pocket the $20m (£12.4m) prize fund.

"We all understand the relationship between sport and business but if you get these two things out of their proper equilibrium then it can turn people off at home," added Burnham.

Culture, media and sport secretary Andy Burnham
Burnham is one of several high-profile figures to criticise the Stanford Series

But legendary former Australia bowler Shane Warne believes the showpiece event is good for cricket and ought to be embraced by England.

"I think itís a fantastic advertisement for the game," Warne told BBC 5 Live. "I think it's great for the brand of cricket. The England players may have missed a trick.

"It was entertainment - a one-off game. I just think there's just a little bit too much whingeing about some of the stuff. Just get on with it and play or don't play it.

"For $20m, it was life-changing for some of these guys. I just think they should have embraced the concept."

Burnham admitted the match may have had some positive effect in the Caribbean, where it was staged, but insisted it was not good for British sport.


"Andrew Flintoff made some comments that it might help reinvigorate cricket in the West Indies, and that is clearly something we would support and that's something in the plus column," said Burnham.

"I just think sport has an integrity when it is sporting objectives first and national pride first.

"When those things are seemingly playing second fiddle to money, I don't think that's what makes sport sellable and gives it its appeal. It starts to detract from those things, and that worries me."

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see also
Pietersen regrets lack of focus
02 Nov 08 |  England
England may change Stanford name
02 Nov 08 |  England
ECB plans Stanford Series review
29 Oct 08 |  England
ECB defends Stanford involvement
01 Nov 08 |  England
Six balls for $20m
29 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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