Tony Cozier: Stanford’s sudden largesse came with a price

A chorus of “I told you so” has reverberated across the Caribbean since Sir Allen Stanford was fingered by United States investigators for “massive fraud”.

There was widespread scepticism from the start that the Texan billionaire’s fanfared entry into West Indies cricket three years ago with his own Twenty20 tournaments was too good – or too bad – to be true.

His global financial empire might have turned over squillions but, even before it was suspected that he might have been illegally using other people’s money, there appeared no business sense to his sudden heavy investment in a game restricted to small territories with small economies and small populations.

No one quite bought his assertion that he had suddenly fallen in love with a complex sport viewed as something of an oddity where he came from. His connection to the shifty realm of island politics and his close association with the previous Antiguan government counterbalanced his role as the biggest investor and employer.

When the administration changed through general elections five years ago, the new prime minister, Baldwin Spencer, called him “haughty, arrogant and obnoxious”.

For all that, there was no doubt that Stanford’s Twenty20 matches, involving 19 territories scattered across the Caribbean, from smallest to biggest, played under the lights at his own Stanford Cricket Ground (the SCG, of course) in front of sizeable crowds and televised live throughout the region, injected a new excitement into Caribbean cricket.

It counteracted the constant bungling of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the depressing international results.

Even Julian Hunte, the WICB president who last April signed the contract sanctioning Stanford’s costliest project, the $20m (£14m) matches between his West Indies Superstars and England, was yesterday moved to “to thank him for what he has done for West Indies cricket”. He went so far as hoping that Stanford would be cleared of the charges “so that we will be able to work together again”.

Hunte was quick to assert that his board was not dependent on the American’s “largesse” for its financial survival. But individual boards did initially receive $100,000 handouts and grants of $15,000 a month to improve facilities, until some squandered the money and Stanford scrapped the scheme.

Such funds will obviously be missed but the Twenty20 tournaments themselves will be missed more, by players and fans.

Quite apart from the huge prize money earned by the winning teams – Trinidad and Tobago pocketed $1.5m in two years, Guyana $1m, Jamaica $500,000 – they gave the anonymous weekend club cricketers from previously ignored smaller islands their moment in the spotlight while their impoverished associations gained finances never forthcoming from the regional board.

Unknowns like Dane Weston from United States Virgin Islands became a star for his hip-wiggling wicket celebrations. Lionel Ritchie, the batsman from St Maarten with the showbiz name, and construction worker Maxford Pipe from the Tortola were other favourites as much as the far more established Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Stanford’s series brought youngsters like Lionel Baker and Andre Fletcher to wider public attention, both moving into the West Indies team, Baker as the first Test player from tiny, volcano-ravaged Montserrat.

Gayle’s endorsement was typical of the feeling of many of the other players – perhaps even those who, it is said, invested with Stanford some of the $1m each they won in the match against England. “No doubt about it, whichever way you look at it, Stanford has done a lot for the Caribbean,” Gayle said.

“He actually brought out a lot of supporters with his tournament and other things so we’re not going to say he hasn’t done anything for us.”

Adamant that his Superstars had to defeat England in the $20m match, Stanford ordered them into a preparatory camp for six weeks and appointed a large support of coaches, trainers and physiotherapists to look after them.

It was the kind of regime with which West Indian cricketers were unfamiliar. Its advantages were evident in the side’s slick |performance in beating England. “It let you know that this was your job, that this is what you had to do to be as good as possible,” said Sulieman Benn, the left-arm |spinner.

The WICB could at least take a leaf from that chapter of Stanford’s book.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum