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Power of initiative and the dollar


For the next month, the entire Caribbean would be wrapped in a neat package, every night, to look at the high energy Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournament.

The initiative of businessman Allen Stanford has toppled all other tournaments the Caribbean has to present.{{more}}

From the toddler to the senior citizens, everyone seems to take the time out, to be part of the action. I am certain that for the next four weeks, the tournament would be the buzz word, each day.

The offer of a US$ 1 Million first prize, monies for preparations, gear, grass roots development and other attractive on and off the field prizes, have re-energised and woe the most dormant cricketer and association in the region.

Undoubtedly, the tournament is one of the most lucrative cricket tournaments the world over.

What it has done, though, is to give our young cricketers, and old alike, that extrinsic motivation, knowing that their efforts would be rewarded.

But what is ironic about the whole affair is that it took an expatriate, who I am certain knew little of cricket before coming to the region, to turn out to be the Godfather of West Indies Cricket.

It is shameful that the regional team for just over a decade ruled the cricket world and was the most attractive team to watch, yet we could not come up with such an idea.

The Caribbean, blessed with great minds, never thought of engaging their intellect and business skills in such a venture.

The result is that Stanford has arrived and he has conquered. This is exemplified in the region’s premier cricket competition, in this case, the Carib Series. The cash strapped WICB had no other choice in recompense for a substantial sum, make way for the Stanford Tournament.

To show how Stanford has the 20/20 locked down, he was able to gain access to several of the US cable networks, and with the Winter season in full effect, those cricket enthusiasts in North America may also have no choice rather than to be glued to the goggle box.

The tournament, though it is about cricket, is more about the television market. Here Stanford has been able to capitalize on the television market, through the sale of the rights.

All he and his team did was use a business approach to cricket, which the West Indies Cricket Board has failed to do over its years of existence.

As the good book, the Holy Bible, says, without vision, the people will perish.

And the regional Board, lacked that vision, and Stanford, I am sure, is benefitting immensely, turning an unattractive product into a veritable entity.

Additionally, his involvement of some of the most revered cricketers of the past is another master stroke, to further add value and credence to the tournament.

The 20/20 tournament has come like earthly manna to many of the local cricket associations, as they have over the years trudged along with stagnation, trying to get their programmes off the ground.

What it has done is to also add that all-round professional touch, as accountability of the funds to the Stanford is paramount.

Apart, Stanford has branded the tournament, using specialised bats and employing some of the most up to date electronic devices.

I must admit that the 20/20 format is not to my liking, but it fits in with the trends of the day. The fast food, instantaneous diet, non stop action, and an emphasis on entertainment, washed down with some Caribbean integration, make the cut.

With this extra shortened version, you can set aside three hours to look at cricket, penciled in on one’s daily agenda, without missing a beat.

Like Australian business tycoon Kerry Packer did some years ago with World Series Cricket, the same effect, the Stanford initiative, is gripping the region.

From here on in, there are lessons for us to learn, to put our money where our mouths lie.

Coming up with some nifty plans to get back the crowds at regional matches must be foremost on the minds of the Directors of the WICB. What has propelled the interest in the 20/20 ? What can they borrow from the quick fix approach, to re-inject life and commitment in the four day format?

These must be answered soonest, otherwise the regional first class season would have to be relegated to a lower ranking.

By the same token, the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field remains one that hurts the residents of that sport loving community.