The Stanford 20/20 cricket series is well underway, with the 'Stanford Superstars' (basically a West Indies team) beating Trinidad and Tobago in a warm up game two days ago and England beating domestic 20Twenty champions Middlesex yesterday. Tonight brings the first game with something riding on it: Middlesex v Trinidad and Tobago in a battle of the teams that have won their domestic tournaments. The winning team gets 280 000 US dollars, the losers 100 000, and the man of the match 20 000. All of this is building up to the 20 million dollar winner takes all match next Saturday between England and the 'Superstars'.
So, there's a lot of money, but what's the cricket like? Obviously, it's 20Twenty, so we want things fairly frenetic, and it looks like the teams are trying to oblige, but it seems that the ground is conspiring against them. You see, the whole thing is being played at Alan Stanford's private stadium in Antigua, which seems to have wonderful facilities for the crowd and players, but which has a couple of flaws when it comes to the playing side of things. The first problem comes in the form of the lights, which are apparently quite poor compared to the best day/night venues. This means that catch after catch is going down, making the fielding appear farcical.
The second problem is, if anything, worse. A combination of a slow outfield (which means that the ball doesn't travel very fast across it towards the boundaries) and a pitch that is both slow and uneven in bounce (which means that no one can time their shots properly) has resulted in quite low scoring games. Interesting for the cricket purist, but not quite the crowd pleasing spectaculars that Stanford wants. Also, there's a trumpeter somewhere in the crowd who really needs to be taught the rest of the tune. No wonder the islands aren't famed for their cavalry regiments. No one can sound the charge properly. Right, that's me done. I'm off to watch it.