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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Billionaire reveals Windies plan
West Indies win the Champions Trophy in 2004
The 2004 Champions Trophy was a recent high point for West Indies
A Texas businessman is to invest $28m (16m) in West Indies cricket.

Billionaire Allen Stanford announced his plans on Monday, which include an annual Twenty20 competition to involve 17 Caribbean countries.

"My vision for the Stanford Twenty20 tournament is that it will be the catalyst for a resurgence of love for the game," he said.

The tournament is due to take place in August/September 2006 with a $1m prize for the winners.

The countries due to take part are Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, British Virgin Islands, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago.

Each will receive $100,000 (57,000) when they confirm their involvement and a further $10,000 per month to help players and coaches prepare.

Stanford, who has been based in Antigua for over 20 years, will bear the entire costs of the competition.

He also aims to set up a professional Super League in the region and arrange two $5m winners-take-all games games in November next year featuring a Caribbean Super Stars XI against "world-class" opponents.

Sir Garfield Sobers
Sir Garfield Sobers is backing the new initiative

"I have witnessed first-hand the power the game of cricket wields over the people in this region," he said.

"West Indies cricket is an almost tangible force which can unify an entire country, an entire group of people, no matter the differences that might exist off the field.

"The energy, the pride, the passion that cricket has inspired in the people of the Caribbean is not only moving but infectious."

West Indies dominated world cricket from the mid-70s until the early 1990s but in recent years the Caribbean talent pool has dried up.

Since the retirement of pace bowlers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, they have struggled to compete consistently at international level, despite the presence of batting star Brian Lara.

And although they won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004, they have suffered a series of setbacks in Test cricket, losing 13 of their last 18 games and winning only two.

There have also been problems off the field between the West Indies Cricket Board and the Players' Association, Wipa.

Many former West Indies greats believe, however, that Stanford's plans offer a ray of hope and his announcement was attended by Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards and Sir Everton Weekes, Clive Lloyd, Ambrose, Walsh, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.

According to the Jamaica Observer, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner Richie Richardson and Ian Bishop will also serve on the board of directors for the project.


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