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Superstars super rich in a flash

The Stanford Superstars, made up of several current West Indies players, became instant millionaires when they trounced England by ten wickets in the richest and probably shortest ever cricket match yesterday.

The Superstars routed England for 99 off 19.5 overs, then easily passed that by bludgeoning 101 without loss inside 13 overs. Each of the victorious 11 Superstars pocketed $1 million.

Fittingly, captain Chris Gayle ended the match in grand style by hoisting an Andrew Flintoff full toss over long on to send his teammates racing onto the field to celebrate, and the crowd into a frenzy.

England will go home with nothing, but they have four more annual cracks at the cash after Stanford put up US$100 million to fund his five-year Stanford Super Series.

Watched by 10 000 at the Stanford Ground and an estimated 700 million via TV worldwide, England produced a woeful batting display. Seizing the initiative given by their bowlers, and energised by the partisan crowd, Gayle and Andre Fletcher boldly attacked England.

But long before that it was a purposeful Superstars unit that held the England team in a stranglehold with brilliant bowling and inspired fielding. No one more epitomised this effort than St Lucian all-rounder Darren Sammy.

Sammy, a late inclusion to the 17-man squad after two players were withdrawn, was in the thick of things from the time Gayle asked him to bowl the first ball of the match.

His first spell was a solitary over, but when he came back for another go in the sixth over, he maintained the pressure set by Jerome Taylor's two early wickets by claiming two more scalps, including the prized wicket of England captain Kevin Pietersen.

Pietersen tried a cheeky cross-batted stroke, but it didn't work and England's most feared batsman was gone for seven.

After Sammy completed an outstanding spell in which he took two for 13 from four overs, he could not be kept out of the game. Amid complaints during the week that the lighting wasn't satisfactory, he made it look so easy when he accepted a skied catch at longon.

There were also a few other good catches, none better than when Dave Mohammed ran back from midwicket to take a catch while avoiding a collision with the advancing Keieron Pollard from deep square-leg.

Pollard also featured with the ball, grabbing two wickets, and Sulieman Benn continued England's misery by grabbing three of the last five wickets in 3.5 overs in which he gave up only 16 runs.

The Superstars made a cakewalk of the target. Andre Fletcher started the ball rolling with three successive fours against Stuart Broad in the second over before it became the Gayle show.

The captain smashed five fours and five sixes in all directions, one of which hit the giant replay screen at cow-corner and another over longon that ended the match.

Gayle finished unbeaten 65 off 45 balls, Fletcher 32 off 31 balls and the closest England came to removing them was when the TV umpire had to make two calls against appeals for lbw and a catch behind.

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