Posted by: nestaquin | October 27, 2008

Stanford 20/20 For 20: Money, The Root of All Good

The richest single sporting match in history is only days away and while many find the whole affair philosophically and economically repugnant, our man in Fabian infatuated London, The Tooting Trumpet, chooses, in the following article, to view the match and the tournament that precedes it with a rebellious coherent optimism that cheerfully challenges the prevailing intellectual condescension of  capitalist philanthropy.

Ayn Rand liked money – not just in the way that you and I (and Homer Simpson) like money – but philosophically, even viscerally. She expressed this veneration of money most explicitly in Francisco’s speech from her novel, Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand writes this warning to finish the speech –

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out.”

It’s likely that Sir Allen Stanford, a man whose business is described as wealth management, subscribes to Ayn Rand’s robust defence of money as the best means for people to deal with each other. His instigation of the Stanford 20/20 for 20 series of matches on his own ground in Antigua has placed money at the heart of cricket in much the same way as the first round of IPL auctions did less than twelve months ago.

Inevitably, this foregrounding of money (and its extent – $20,000,000 to the winners of next Saturday’s match between the Stanford Superstars and England) has produced any amount of hand-wringing in the Press and in the comments sections of many blogs.

But why is Stanford, who is ploughing unheard of sums into West Indian cricket which faced a very real prospect of being marginalised at world level and regional level before this sugar daddy turned up, so vilified by so many? The Trumpet boils down the objections into three main areas.

(i) He is American, looks American and acts American and therefore cannot be trusted.

Where is the evidence for this view? He has lived in the West Indies for years and has put his money where his mouth is. He appears to be genuinely liked and respected in the Caribbean and, unlike some wealthy Americans elsewhere in the world, has embraced the local culture rather than imposed his own. He built a cricket ground when he could have built a baseball or basketball stadium.

(ii) It’s distasteful, this gaudy display of money, the helicopter landing at Lord’s, the quick surrender of the ECB to his dubious charms.

But isn’t this pure hypocrisy? If we’re fortunate enough to have a job, we sell our skills for money – few of us would turn down the opportunity to sell those skills for hugely more money, especially if we had our employer’s backing.

(iii) It will imbalance both the game, through promoting T20 at the expense of Tests and through making very wealthy men of some players, but not all.

Not so long ago, the talk was of player burnout through too many Tests. (And how many T20 games does it take to equal the physical and mental effort of a Test? Five? Ten? Probably twenty). Perhaps we need fewer Tests to make them the marquee events they should be and not the treadmill they have become.

If the Game’s leadership (a bigger constituency than just the ICC) can sort out a proper calendar for world cricket, T20, ODIs and Tests can cohabit comfortably. Some players might specialise in T20, but it won’t be many and any young player would have to be mad to turn down Test cricket as the rewards are substantial and the glory great.

Dressing rooms might divide between Ferraris and BMWs but cricket has always accommodated Maharajahs and paupers. It happens in other employment situations, indeed in life, and leadership is what deals with it.

So let’s go back to my quote above, specifically, “Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out.”

The Stanford players have taken the dollars: their detractors have not threatened physical violence, but a more subtle violence by calling into question their integrity, their sense of the game’s history and their willingness to make a quick buck over the long term health of the game. The players haven’t snapped back yet, and that is to their credit.

Come the showdown on Saturday, The Trumpet is looking forward to seeing professional cricketers giving their all for their team, playing hard but playing fair and, yes, playing for money. The Trumpet might not like the winner takes all format, but other than that, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Responses

  1. Admittedly I know little of Stanford or of the competition but anyone who is interested in investing in cricket, especially in the West Indies and its neighbouring affiliates should be supported.

    What I do know is that the Caribbean Stanford 20/20 would like to include Cuba who were denied entry because Stanford was threatened with arrest by the US Government if the communist island took part because of the US imperialist embargo.

    To Stanford’s credit he is paying lobbyists in Washington to have this decision overturned for next year’s tournament.

    Several tiny affiliate nations also compete including Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos and Bermuda and that can only be positive for cricket.

    The 20 million dollar match will help promote the local tournament and it is my hope that the Superstars win the cash because I have a suspicion that their families and communities may need the money more than the England T20 squad.

    Also, I enjoyed the link to Francisco’s speech but you can’t beat Homer Simpson for sophisticated wisdom. Doh!

    Excellent article, Toots, a pleasure to read and an honour to publish.

  2. Thanks Nesta – I’d like as much of the money as possible to stay in the Caribbean. That might be possible even if England win, with the players making encouraging noises about responsibility. Just 10% of the gross sum (I’m sure that Antigua might hold on to some in tax etc) could fund a lot of development work in poorer communities.

    We’ll see if it’s any more than lip service at a time that’s not easy to flaunt riches.

  3. Hi Tooting… thanks for another excellent article.

    As I write, I’m watching England vs Middlesex thanks to the informal webcasters… and Flintoff’s been given out to a dubious catch.

    I have no animosity towards Sir Allen – and as you correctly state, it’s his money to do with as he pleases, but I feel queasy at what this ‘wager’ might mean for cricket’s future.

  4. toinette – thanks.

    I think what it will mean for cricket’s future, is that one week each year, England will play in Antigua.

    That’s it.

  5. I’m watching too and dubious or not it was pleasant to see a catch after several sitters were grassed.

    So far it has been the worst game of T20 I’ve ever seen, for atmosphere, lighting and quality of cricket.

    I do understand it is something of a warm-up match but it would be somewhat embarrassing for England to be beaten by a county team.

    The bowlers are going to have to do well to defend 121 or alternatively Middlesex could bat as poorly as Strauss has. With only a run a ball his dismissal just then was in keeping with this match’s poor standard.

  6. The standard is terrible – Middlesex should cruise this.

  7. I agree that money is the root of all good; especially when it supports struggling boards, and (even better) cricketers. More power to all those who get to make money from Stanford 20/20.

    Now only if ECB would stop saying “Rupee is the root of all evil.” :-)

  8. Leela – Money can be used for good or ill, but it’s hard to do good without it.

    One of the reasons professionals play sport is to earn money and I agree with that. It’s not the sole reason, but it shouldn’t be judged as wrong or immoral even if it’s the main reason, especially by those that write about it for money.

  9. Good read Toots, I particularly liked the Atlas Shrugged reference. Though it’s been many years since I read that (and The Fountainhead) they’ve been two very influential books on my way of thinking.

    This Stanford Payday will probably work out to around 1 million pounds per player. Sure that sounds like a lot, and it is, but who is to say our cricketers are less deserving of big bucks than Baseball stars, or Soccer players?

    The top 25 US Baseball players earned between 14.8 mil and 28 mil in 2008!

    What’s Beckham make? Is he that much better Pietersen or Flintoff?

  10. Cheers Moses.

    Beckham is nowhere near Flintoff and KP’s levels in their sports. He doesn’t have a big salary at the LA Galaxy, but he has cuts of the revenue and merchandising rights which puts him in the A-Rod bracket.

  11. Completely agree with you. Cheers.

  12. Just looked it up, Bekham’s salary is only $US6.5m, still a lot more than the England cricket captain will make even if he pockets Standford’s windfall.

    The other 50 odd million a year is the merchandising rights, which is nice but I guess he’s the product that’s selling it.

  13. Here’s my analysis of why some people say Stanford is against the ‘spirit of cricket’:
    1. Category 1 – those who spoke out against IPL out of jealousy that India is getting to control cricket, and realise that to maintain credibility, they have no choice but to oppose stanford on the same grounds even though they dont feel that bad about the stanford money – since it helps cut down India’s influence. But having spoken out too soon against IPL, they realise that they have to oppose stanford for the record. (Secretly they relish that Stanford has come along to help England in its battle to not allow Cricket admin go to those ‘native jhonnies’.)
    2. Category 2 – those who spoke out against IPL genuinely out of their conviction that too mcuh T20 is wrong for Cricket. Obvious that they will oppose Stanford for same reasons.
    3. There is a category 3 which cried foul over IPL but have taken to Stanford with full shameless glee – they are called the ECB. Stanford truly exposes the ECB as the worst board in the world because they dont have any principles – they oppose IPL as a vulgar exercise but not Stanford. You can even see racist tones here – it is okay to sell your soul for dollars but how can you deign to sell your soul for lowly rupees?

  14. raj it is people like you that give India a bad name.it isnt racist for a company to protect its brand and choose one deal over another. it is called business.getting insulted by the littlest thing and using emotions instead of the head is what makes people look down on india not the ipl.this is a good blog thta has respect for evreyone and you always being rude and calling them racist with no reason brings shame to us all.

  15. raj – I have some sympathy with your views, but I’m with Prasad when it comes to the IPL and racism. There are many issues with the IPL, but one of the main ones for the ECB is that it is played at a time of year that crosses with the traditional English season.

    I don’t doubt that the power of India within world cricket is another issue that exercises the ECB, but I suspect that would be the case if the Board with growing power were Australia’s or New Zealand’s. I may be wrong, but if there is racism about the fact that it is Indians and not caucasians flexing their muscles, then I suspect this is a very minor factor within the bigger picture.

  16. Reading the English press today there is an awful amount of negativity about these matches.

    Also, the writers almost to a man or woman are assuming that the England XI will win. I can only imagine their glee if the lads come home relatively empty handed.

    I think they are envious and protest way too much.

  17. The one issue ( if you want to call it that) is how will the Stanford money impact the dressing room harmony of the England team.

    Win, and the distribution of revenues becomes a bone of contention. Lose and scapegoats will be found ( even more so if the Poms stand to lose out on the IPL money).

    Either ways, it is a lose lose situation for the Poms

    Cheers,

  18. I tend to agree Homer.

    I find it strange and dangerous that the playing XI get a million each (if they win) and the rest of the squad have to share a million.

    That sort of arrangement can only lead to disharmony especially with a slow soft turning track as one of the favoured fast bowlers will probably be left out for Swann.

    Toots, any info on who came up with the idea to not share the spoils?

  19. prasad, I hope you can restore the good name of Indians among those who are disgusted by my ‘racism’.
    TTT, you have got to admit that for 20+ years, England havent bothered to honour Sri Lanka with a proper test series – yet, they climb on to the moral high ground now that SL has cancelled a test series with them, “oh we are the only ones worrying about test cricket, look at these guys, they are after IPL money” etc – the sad thing is people like you will not explicitly condemn that attitude. You will brush aside with a general “I dont think race has got much to do with it”.
    The problem is clearly when people come out with “my culture is superior, look at us, we go and offer handshake, look at this impolite Indians, they arent available. I guess it is cultural difference”. Implying what? Your culture is superior? And all of you will argue through the night that Adam Gilchrist is a saint.

    This is clearly a problem. If you cannot condemn the ECB attitude now, what would you do when the cycle completes and England becomes the major power again overtaking India? Then, they would treat us exactly as they treated us before 1990’s – with contempt and complete disrespect. I suspect you will not have much to say about that at that point. Let’s hope both of us live to see that and are still interacting through this blog. I am pretty sure I will get to say “I told you so”.

    England and Australia are practically one in the ICC. They exert pressure together, they work hand-in-hand. It beggars belief that you would believe that England would be jealous of Aussie ascendancy in the ICC. They would just make a deal just like with the Americans. Practically, UK does what America bids it to in politics, doesnt it? Why cant they do it in sports? Why cant they admit that India is the superpower and do its bidding in Cricket? Well, it is not as if you are doing it for principles, are you? What principles that the ECB has? Clearly, the fact that it is India rankles. I am pretty sure Aussies wont face this sort of rabid opposition from ECB. Dont tell me they wont make a deal with the Aussies. The question is when it makes sense to make a deal with India financially, why dont they still want to do it?
    You and I, let us call BCCI and ECB all names we want to. We are not wheeler-dealers. But you know and I know that both BCCI and ECB are wheeler-dealers. Why then does the ECB have problems with cutting a deal with BCCI alone? Any thinking person will understand the undercurrent.

    Of course, I sound emotional but if you think about it, racism is not calling some one blck mnky. That can happen in the heat of a moment, and the caller can actually feel genuinely sorry about it.

  20. BTW, in my original comment, I did recognise that there would be people who are genuinely opposed to T20 and obviously, I was referring to Englishmen here. So, I was clearly distinguishing these gentlemen and the other ones who have other underlying reasons.
    Yet, Mr Prasad implies that I implied that all Englishmen are racists. So much for comprehension. So, Mr Prasad, I should say “not a single Englishman is racist”. Only then I qualify to be an Indian who makes his nation proud?
    You know what, you should look deep into yourself. Why do you boil over when I call some Englishmen(that too, I have clearly categorised them so if you think that category doesnt exist, then you can simply say that 0 people exist in that category) having racist undertones? Is your argument that 100% of Englishmen are non-racist?

    I may be emotional, my friend, but I am also a mathemetician, you cant beat me in logic.

  21. Besides, Prasad, all that talk about business. Did the ECB present it as such – clearly, they are positioning themselves as the ‘saviours’ of cricket from the ‘savages’ from the sub-continent? What else is all that noise about India’s unhealthy influence thanks to the rupees about? The opposition to IPl was rationalised as love for test cricket by the ECB. Even recently, they berated the Lankans for preferring IPL cash over holy tests against England, didnt they?
    If it was only business, why take such high moral ground
    Clearly, even you can see that you stand on untenable ground?

    Clearly, these are things I cannot expect comment from any Englander on, even if they privately agree with my thoughts. That, my friend, is patriotism. Not that I would admire it but there it is. And then we have your likes who want to score brownie points with them so will try to rationalise the ECB position when they themselves are clearly positioning themselves as Saviours of Test Cricket(but only if India is threatening it).

  22. Raj – I shall reflect on your views, but I stand by what I wrote.

    The last time there was a threat to the status quo of world cricket, it came from an Australian – Mr Kerry Packer. The opposition to him in England from all sectors of the game was ferocious. English cricket is also actively working to restrict Kolpak players being employed by English counties. The vast majority of those players are Australian and white South African.

    English cricket is more motivated by its self-interest than the race of those against whom it moves – that is not to say that some people in English cricket are (at best) uncomfortable with the shift in the balance of power in cricket towards India.

    I have never seen an English cricketer, administrator or fan treat an Indian cricketer, administrator or fan with “contempt and complete disrespect” before the 90s. It would be hard to find a cricketer more loved in Lancashire than Faroukh Engineer (unless it’s Clive Lloyd). I was in the crowd at Old Trafford in 1983 when news of Kapil’s World Cup innings of 174 vs East Africa (I think) was announced – there was prolonged applause. Many Englishmen believe Ranjisinji to be the greatest batsmen in history.

    I could go on (and I’m sorry if I have spelled any names incorrectly) but I’ll finish by saying that my favourite cricketer in the world is not Flintoff, nor KP, nor Dale Steyn, it is VVS Laxman, whom I have watched on television all night before going to work the next day, so keen am I not to miss a second of a man the likes of whom we may never see again (and forced my kids to watch too, though not all night!). Lancashire fans are ecstatic that the great man is coming back next summer and so am I.

  23. TTT, fair enough. I cannot question your credentials – but let’s say the ECB’s posturing about saving Test Cricket, and in general, the ganging up of Eng-Aus-NZ rankles me as much as the ganging up of Ind-Pak-SL does to my equal and opposite number in England. While the Ind-Pak-SL is fairly established as the evil arm of the BCCI in the English/Aussie press, I am just presenting an equal and opposite view.
    My first cricketing hero was David Gower – even though I had never watched him – that was because of the newspapers I read and the image stuck. Watching him later only enhanced that admiration. Azhar, and later Laxman, remain monstrous favourites, too.

  24. If foreign players being admired and adored is a coin, then India would be one of the leading holders of reserves in that currency, isnt it? Even Boycott has his admirers here, so there :-)

  25. But one can clearly see that the Aussies believe *only* they play Cricket in the spirit of the game, dont they? Clearly reflected in Gilly’s latest blunder.

  26. Raj – That’s very gracious of you.

    I do find the idea of blocs distasteful – the good of the Greatest Game should drive all decisions.

    I think a lot of Aussies rate Laxman, Ganguly and Tendulkar and, these days, Ishant and Mishra. And everyone will fall for (and to) Mendis once he plays away from the sub-continent.

  27. Toots, I don’t believe that Aussie players are covered under Kolpak. Otherwise why would Warney have looked into gaining German residency to help out Hampshire?

  28. Moses – you’re probably right. Apologies for the error.

  29. by the sounds of it soon no-one will be covered..

  30. I think the opposition to Stanford Super Series is stupid. It’s just a week of cricket, or do the press and the other assorted gentlemen who criticise this game have other plans for the English team for that week?

    Then there’s the point about Cricketers in general earning far more less than the pros in other sports. Do they dislike Wimbledon or The Open Championship organisers handing out millions and millions of pounds in prize money every year? Why not? The prize money in SSS dwarfs both the above. Or, how about English footballers — who can’t qualify to European Championship — earning more money every week than English cricketers earn without the SSS? Or, how Hamilton’s contract with McLaren in his second year in F1 is bigger than the collective central contracts of English cricket team? Why the opposition to cricketers earning money if you have none to sports stars in other sports?

    As far as the rising popularity of T20 goes, why is it impossible for “purists” to watch both T20 and test cricket? Do they think test cricket will survive for another hundred years if money is not pumped into it at some point? What incentive is there, for instance for a budding young sports star in New Zealand, for instance, to pick cricket over rugby if there is no way for him to earn big bucks paying cricket?

    Raj – I severely dislike my fellow Indians claiming racism where there is none. Notice the number of players of Asian origin breaking into, or just an the sidelines of English cricket team? I won’t say that there wasn’t any of it in the past, but things have changed considerably now, and it is not just because of Indian board’s financial muscle, but also because of the general changing attitude and multiculturalism in UK.

  31. Chinmay, good for you. As far as I am concerned, Britain is certainly learning and getting into an age of tolerance, if not enlightenment. Sadly, India is travelling in the opposite direction. These remain but what puzzles me is that people use this to paint the ECB in “white” and not contest their claims that they are “fighting for the good of cricket”. They never did, and they are not now. They will never, either. This hypocrisy is naueseating especially when they had the “veto” until the 90’s and were never shy of nakedly using it to promore English and Aussie interests. They just have no locus standi to question BCCI doing the same now. You and I have the locus standi to claim BCCI, just as TTT does, but not the ECB, not the CA, with their history of hiding Mark Waugh and Shane Warne’s misdemeanours and participation in the veto system.

  32. Raj – Every media will be nationalistic. Look at majority of Indian media’s attitude over BCCI – who are not saints like Indian media seems to make out, and the various misconduct of Indian players. Look at the subtle impartiality of most of the cricket commentators towards their own nation (Sunil Gavaskar seems to pop into the mind in this category). It’s what you tend to expect. It’s trying to print/say what their constituents want to read.

    Hint: People who are trying to paint ECB as saviour of test cricket are almost always English.

    This is by no means racism. It’s nationalism, yes, but that is not necessarily bad. Claiming this as racism is unhealthy… the next thing people would claim that it is racist for English supporters to cheer English victory and boo Indian victory at Old Trafford or Trent Bridge! It’s just not cricket to make these claims.

  33. Hi Trumpet. I am not a convert to 20-20 cricket but I live in a era where i want to see sportsmen being responsible for their own destiny. Any pot of cash being dished up should benefit those who earned it most. Over the years too much money has gone into the hands of cricket boards which neither trickle down to grassroots, the players or even benefit those who represented their country in a time when there ‘was no money involved’.

    Cricket need 20-20 with all its razzamataz to survive. Today’s generation have a very short attention span; 5 day and 50 over matches are for the purest armchair viewer (minority) The majority which the sport has to get through turnstiles or have subscribing to pay-per-view matches want to watch a game lasting equally the same time as a soccer match with a result.

    I still do not know which is the best day to attend a test match.

    With respect to Stanford; he has been allowed to buy himself a knighthood (he is a texan, like Bush) how come is being referred to as SIR?
    He has undoubtably changed the lives of 17 WI cricketers but the jury is out whether the bad feelings which Lara’s endorsements, personal achievement etc brought into the WI team.
    lets hope now that the team has more than one millionaire it will act as an incentive to inspire others. My fear is that it will distract those who are not hungry enough to decide that they are set for life. It will without doubt further restrict the opportunity of people like Andre Fletcher who is not deemed good enough to make the Grenadian team not solely on technique or ability but because his face does not fit.

  34. There is no best day to attend a Test for each is a unique event.

    However, on Day One you are almost guaranteed a tense and gripping first session. Usually someone will get a ton or there will be enough wickets to keep it interesting. Also, you get to witness the pomp and tradition of the captains in blazers at the all important toss.

    If you want to see both team’s in the field Day Two or Three is a good bet. With this criteria it helps to have a sound knowledge of the ground’s history. Pitches do change character but usually over several seasons. However, drop in pitches are by their very nature, unpredictable.

    If you are a bit of a gambler and the match is not finished, Day Five can be a remarkably rewarding day’s cricket however it can disappoint like the last day in Delhi a few day’s ago.

  35. Delboy – you make some considered points and my apologies for not replying earlier.

    I concur with Nesta above re the Tests, personally preferring Days Two and Three as the momentum shifts.

    I’ve no problem with Stanford’s knighthood – all such honours are ridiculous, but if we have them, it’s right that local independent countries can bestow them as they see fit.

    Re T20 and the million, it strikes me that rich people seem to like money quite a lot and work hard / scheme hard to get more of it. The level of profesionalism displayed by the Superstars in the match heartened me and augurs well for a Windies team in all forms of the game.

    T20 should be enjoyed for what it is and valued for what it does – broaden cricket’s appeal.


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