Billionaire offers $20m shootout
The experience of being snubbed by the Indian cricket board has not fazed Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, who intends to offer Australia's cricketers $20 million for four hours' work in the Caribbean next year.
And Stanford, judging by his recent effort to get US Government permission to do business with Havana so he can add Cuba to his regional tournament next year, usually gets his way.
Stanford previously had proposed a quadrangular Twenty20 tournament, which was met with concern by the International Cricket Council.
His latest concept pitches the Australians against an all-star team from around the West Indies in a single match, with the winner to take the entire $20 million prize purse.
India refused a similar invitation after winning the Twenty20 world championship in September and since has trumped Stanford by launching the fully franchised IPL.
He is adamant that in "Stanford 2020", the domestic competition involving 21 Caribbean nations, cricketers will represent only their own islands but declared the IPL would not distract him from his ambition to gain global exposure by tempting a leading country such as Australia into a shootout.
This time, he believes the idea will get off the ground. While many of the Australian stars sold to Indian franchises in last week's multimillion-dollar auction are not expected to play in the IPL next year because of international commitments, Stanford may see a chance for a flying visit around next year's Ashes tour.
He is yet to hold formal talks with Cricket Australia or the England and Wales Cricket Board about either country's availability.
"If enough players in Australia or England or India know they have a chance to come down here to the Caribbean — and, probably in their minds, more than likely they're going to win it — that they can spend a couple of days and walk away each one of them with millions of dollars in their pocket, I think it will probably happen," Stanford said.
"All this junk I had to go through in the beginning with some of the other folks in cricket trying to derail our whole project, well, the project is too big now.
"So I think next year it is absolutely certain to happen."
The entrepreneur's determination to make a regular fixture of the shootout may pose another threat to the Future Tours Program, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India likely to lobby for an annual window in the calendar so the world's most marketable cricketers can play in the IPL.
Luring the 50-over world champion would be a coup for Stanford, who aims to make money by beaming games around the world.
Judging by the weekend's regional finals in Antigua, the Australians would fancy their chances of beating the best Twenty20 players in the Caribbean to seize Stanford's cash.