The England and Wales Cricket Board have agreed to play five winner-takes-all £10m Twenty20 matches in the Caribbean after signing a deal with Sir Allen Stanford.
One of cricket’s greatest rivalries was rekindled today at the launch of the Stanford 20/20 for 20 where Sir Allen Stanford, on behalf of the Stanford 20/20 Board, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), announced a new five-match series for the richest team prize for a single sporting match of US$20million.
Starting from November 1, the series of five annual ‘winner takes all matches’ will be hosted at the spectacular Stanford Cricket Ground in Antigua, where England will face the Stanford Super Stars under the lights and electric atmosphere synonymous with Stanford 20/20.
According to Stanford, Chairman of Stanford Financial Group and founder of the Stanford 20/20 tournament, the confirmation of the series was another great step forward for cricket in the Caribbean.
“I see the Stanford 20/20 for 20 as a fantastic opportunity for current players in the Stanford 20/20 tournament to take a giant leap into the spotlight and gain exposure to top class opposition," he said.
"The Stanford 20/20 for 20 will be a highly anticipated event, not just because of the prize money, but because of the traditional friendly rivalry that exists between England and the West Indies."
Legends Sir Ian Botham and Sir Vivian Richards were at Lord's for today's launch.
"I can’t think of a better example of the people who personify this rivalry, will to win, and mutual respect more than Sir Viv Richards and Sir Ian Botham," added Stanford. "Their values and fighting spirit are also everything that Stanford 20/20 cricket represents and strives for."
As well as Botham and Richards, today’s launch drew support from some of the icons of West Indies cricket including Sir Everton Weekes, Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose.
Months of planning with the ECB and WICB have resulted in the series being confirmed as ICC authorised matches. ECB Chairman Giles Clarke explained that the new series represented the boards’ commitment to supporting the world-wide growth of 20/20 cricket and the opportunities for its players:
“We are extremely delighted that Sir Allen has chosen to work in partnership with the ECB," he said.
"These matches will offer a chance for not only international cricketers but cricket at all levels - both here and in the Caribbean - to benefit. It is a hugely exciting time for cricket and particularly Twenty20 cricket."
According to the WICB President Julian Hunte, the Stanford 20/20 for 20 will play an increasingly important role in developing cricket in the region.
“Today is an important day for West Indies Cricket and our emphasis on cricket development," he said.
"The goal we have set ourselves in our strategic plan is to regain our rightful place at the pinnacle of world cricket by 2012. To achieve this goal we need to have more people, especially our youth, developing a passion for the game.
"The financial support and the partnership with Stanford 20/20 and the ECB are pivotal to the future of West Indies cricket. Right now, we are everybody’s second best team. In four years we will be the best team in the world.”
The Stanford 20/20 for 20 is the latest sporting sponsorship confirmed by Sir Allen and is part of an overall investment plan for developing the profile, future players, and renewed success of West Indies cricket.
The Stanford Financial Group is also the title sponsor for such sporting events as the Stanford US Open Polo Championship, the Stanford USPA Silver Cup, the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week, the PGA Tour Stanford St. Jude Championship and the Stanford International Pro-Am.