Stanford's black bat flies in face of MCC

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The Independent Online

The England and Wales Cricket Board's $150m (£77m) deal with the Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford remained in doubt last night with the Marylebone Cricket Club, the guardian of the Laws of Cricket, refusing to host Twenty20 matches where an unsanctioned bat is used. The MCC has recently changed the cricketing law relating to the bat, stating among other things that it should be wooden in colour.

The MCC fears that coloured bats may allow manufacturers to hide banned materials that give batsmen an unfair advantage. But Stanford wants his trademark black cricket bats used in the games he is prepared to sponsor.

The ECB and Stanford are planning to stage two separate annual events, the first involving England and a West Indian All Star XI at his own ground in Antigua, the other England, a West Indian All Star XI and two invited international cricket teams at Lord's. The winner takes all prize money at stake would make many players overnight dollar millionaires but after a day of meetings between the MCC and the ECB a decision had not been made.

Discussions will continue today with the MCC no doubt keen to see Stanford face to face to explain the reason for their reluctance.

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