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Who wants to be a millionaire?

One team will have 20 million reasons to smile, and one team will have 20 million reasons to cry.

That will be the hard cold truth, following the Stanford Twenty20 match for US$20 million between the Stanford Superstars and England today at the Stanford Cricket Ground.

The historic match between the Superstars, a collection of West Indies all-stars, and the England nationals will make the players on the winning side instant dollar millionaires.

It will also bring the curtain down on the inaugural Stanford Super Series which was conceptualised by American business tycoon Sir Allan Stanford, and given the blessings of the West Indies Cricket Board and the England & Wales Cricket Board.

Both teams have had solid preparation during the last week for this winner-take-all match, and hardly placed a foot wrong, but they will both have to put it all together if they want to walk away with the big prize.

Superstars captain Chris Gayle is confident that his side can rise to the challenge. He has alongside him no less than 11 players that have represented West Indies in international matches which he believes will make it easier to plot a strategy to snare the treasure chest.

"The good thing about it is that I know everyone on this team," he said. "I know a bit about the personality. I know more about the cricket. I'm not worried. I know who can fit where and who can handle pressure. I have an understanding about each and everyone on my team.

"We've got to be positive. We have to stick to the basic things. We have to be aggressive. We are not going to play games. Any individual can change a Twenty20 match with their batting or their bowling."

Gayle's and his teammates' optimism have been raised several notches in the last few days, following the previous two matches in the Super Series.

Apart from Gayle watching his own side surgically dismantle Middlesex by 58 runs in their final practice match on Thursday, two days earlier he saw Trinidad & Tobago, the reigning Stanford Twenty20 Cup champions, take England to the wire before the visitors clinch a one-run victory.

"That game put them on their Ps and Qs a bit more," he said. "I am sure they will come harder at us. They got a wake-up call. Everyone is going to plan. They are accustomed to the conditions now.

"I'm sure they are looking forward to it, but we'll be ready with whatever they bring to us."

With each playing member on the winning side guaranteed US$1 million, the final 11 will attract greater interest than normal.

The Superstars have chosen to keep this under lock and key, but England informed James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Alastair Cook, and Ryan Sidebottom that they - sadly - did not make the final 11.

Prompted by the typically low and slow nature of the Stanford
Cricket Ground pitch in the preceding matches, England have decided to include leg-spin bowler Graeme Swann.
England captain Kevin Pietersen admitted it was the most difficult choice he has had to make in the short period that he has led the national team.

"It was never going to be the easiest decision," he said. "In fact, it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in terms of carrying 11 players on the field.

"It has been very difficult for him [Anderson], especially being an integral part of the team for the past 12 months, but he has taken it brilliantly well, and he has been absolutely fantastic at training.

"We haven't played a second spinner for I don't know how long, but unfortunately conditions have meant Jimmy has to miss out. We realise that we play to win for England, and unfortunately, the circumstances have arisen in terms of the pitch, and the outfield, and the way games have gone. We have to play another spinner."

source - jamaicaobserver.com
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