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Mr. Stanford, we sincerely appreciate your intentions

Mr. Stanford, we sincerely appreciate your intentions

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Memo to Allan Stanford
by Greg Hoyos

Dear Mr. Stanford,

We in the Caribbean have been watching your project called 20/20 Cricket with interest. We watched how you gathered up (some would say corralled) our cricketing heroes and got them into your camp, some looking a bit bemused but still gamely smiling for the cameras.

We have watched the innovations in the game itself, from the format to the uniforms, bats, balls and so on. We watched some of the games themselves; some were quite entertaining, and many of us felt we should form teams of our own, since so much money was “giving way”.{{more}}

We looked on, fascinated, as your planned crowning achievement fell foul of the international cricket establishment and fizzled out in an embarrassing flop.

We watched and we wondered. But by and large, we didn’t like what we saw.

In the Caribbean, we are still a conservative society at heart, and something about the way you were trying to buy up the game rankled in our hearts. US$28 million (or whatever the final figure is) seemed an absurd amount of money to spend on a piddling little tournament where the outcome was unimportant (remind me: who won again? Who came second?)

We know our cricket heroes are relatively underpaid and will do anything once hired; we are glad for them but something still stuck in our craw.

Perhaps it was the unrelenting publicity that was as subtle as a cricket bat swung by Brian Lara. Maybe that was too much “in our face”, and too formulaic, somehow. It lacked soul and modesty. The planes painted over; the entire issue of the airline magazine devoted to the tournament. Too much, too much. Enough, already.

As I say to our clients: you can dish it out, but that doesn’t mean people are going to take it in.

Perhaps we saw a foreigner trying to buy up our game – a hostile takeover, almost. We didn’t really want another Kerry Packer, thank you. We want to regain our top-spot in the world in our own way, even though we have no idea what that is.

The 20/20 format is a bit too much like a fete match at present. It needs to mature some more before we take it seriously.

And pardon me for saying this, but it’s possible that we saw too much of you. Certainly your photo seemed to be everywhere, at every event, at the opening of an envelope as the saying goes. Perhaps a little more subtlety was in order. We are proud people, not that we have much to be proud of in cricket right now, and we want to see ourselves, not someone else.

To me, the most surprising thing when the international match was cancelled was the deafening silence from Caribbean peoples. No-one rose up in support; no-one was outraged; no-one seemed to care. That’s what made me realise that we haven’t been bought yet.

It seemed we all yawned and went on with our lives.

Mr. Stanford, we sincerely appreciate your intentions. The cricketers who benefited from your largesse appreciated it even more. And we don’t mean to be churlish. But you needed to do some more research first, to find out what attitudes existed in our minds before you tried to bludgeon them to suit your purposes.

You spent a lot of money. I hope you got something for it. I’m not sure we did.

• Reprinted from Caribbean360.com with permission.

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