Ted Corbett

LONDON: A plan that could make 11 cricketers rich beyond their wildest dreams was unveiled at Lord’s on Wednesday by the Texan billionaire Allen Stanford.

Sir Allen, who was knighted in Antigua, his base for 20 years, in 2006, has promised to inject £75 million of his own wealth of around £2 billion into a series of Twenty20 tournaments in the next five years.

There is no doubting his riches. He made the point by being the first businessman to land his helicopter on the Nursery ground on Wednesday afternoon. Neither the Queen nor the Australian media magnate, Kerry Packer, have been allowed that privilege.

Cash bonanza

The money-bags tournaments will begin on November 1 when there will be a winner-takes-all £10 million match on the new international ground near the Antigua airport between England and Stanford’s All Star XI.

Another tournament

There will also be a four-team tournament in England next year featuring England, West Indies, Australia and South Africa when the prize money will be $9.5 million.

Compared with the $1.2 million divided among the Rajasthan Royals, winners of the DLF-Indian Premier League recently and the total prize money of $5 million in the last World Cup, these are vast sums, but Sir Allen is looking at a wider horizon from his helicopter window. He wants to spread cricket to the United States.

At Wednesday’s crowded press conference in the ECB headquarters, the organisers had lined up an impressive gallery of big names to back the richest tournament in the game’s history.

Peter Moores, the England coach, Sir Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards all spoke in support of a venture that has clearly taken the breath away from players of their generation.

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