Sunday, 7 June 2009

Spare a thought for Stanford - and Subhash Chandra

While Chris Gayle took the game away quite conclusively from the Australians at the Oval yesterday, credit is also due to the lesser lights, Andre Fletcher and Jerome Taylor, who set the pace at the beginning of each innings with the bat and ball respectively. Watching them confidently put the Australians in their place made me think of the Stanford 20/20 for 20, when the Stanford Superstars, basically the WI team by another name, dismissed the English to win $20 million. That win was in turn set up by the Stanford 20/20 domestic tournament which helped to identify new talent and hone it through good facilities and coaching. Fletcher, himself, credits Stanford with providing him the platform to showcase his skills, and still thinks highly of him, despite losing some of his winnings due to investments in the latter's firm.
Which brings me to Sir Allen. Despite the supposed Ponzi scheme and the obvious crassness of landing his helicopter at Lord's, it can't be denied that his money did help to bankroll a lot of whatever development there was in West Indian cricket in the last 3-4 years. Given how the WICB has been running things, imagine how much worse things could have been for cricket in the Caribbean (and consequently, cricket in general, given how popular a team they are). So perhaps the ICC should spare a thought for building up the game's base there, before trying to break into the American market.
At this point, let me take off into the realm of wishful thinking/wild conjecture. I wish Subhash Chandra would get involved. Unlike Stanford, Chandra made his initial millions in more prosaic things like exporting rice and manufacturing plastic toothpaste tubes before setting up the Zee TV network which, in turn, begat the Indian Cricket League. Now that the ICL has been squeezed to within an inch of its life by the BCCI, it might be a good fit to see the whole apparatus shift out west. A lot of the Indian players have resigned from the league thanks to the BCCI's 'amnesty' and could all therefore be replaced by local talent, supplemented by the international players (admittedly not the youngest or brightest stars, but still useful) and guided by the coaches and support staff who have been persuaded to stay. Given that Zee has a presence in the US cable TV market already, and the Caribbean is about 1-3 hours ahead in terms of time-zones, the games could readily be broadcast in the US too. That would seem to be an easier way to break into the market than trying to set up a league in the US with hardly any local talent and limited local support.
And since the league would (hopefully) no longer be perceived as competition for the IPL, perhaps it could finally get official ICC recognition. That would only be fair.