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Thrills and spills at the Super Series

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 05:35 UK time, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

We always suspected that this week would be full of intrigue and already the Stanford Super Series has not disappointed.

On the field we have already had four highly enjoyable matches, despite concerns about the quality of the pitch and the difficulty of catching the ball under the lights at the Stanford ground.

The best game of the week so far came on Tuesday night as England won a dramatic match against Trinidad and Tobago by a single run.

Off the field we've had the bizarre incident concerning Sir Allen Stanford himself, in which the Texan billionaire apologised to Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior after pictures of him with Prior's pregnant wife on his lap were shown on the big screen at the ground.

Then as we were preparing to go on air on Tuesday we heard the news that England were down to just 11 fit players with a stomach bug sweeping through the camp.

Andrew Flintoff in action

We even heard rumours that a couple of the Middlesex players, also taking part in the Super Series, had been put on stand-by to make a dramatic England debut. Just imagine if something similar happens on Saturday morning.

Its also been great fun in the BBC commentary box, especially with the calibre of people we are fortunate to have this week. It is always a great thrill to work with one of cricket's greatest ever batsman Sir Viv Richards and we've also welcomed another former West Indies captain Jimmy Adams into the box, as well as fast bowling great Colin Croft.

For Tuesday's thrilling encounter we were joined by Middlesex pair Shaun Udal and Andrew Strauss. There was some good natured banter from the back of the box. When Strauss was explaining how he had found playing with the Stanford black bats, Udal shouted out "shame you haven't got any white marks on yours yet... except on the edge."

It must be a rather strange week for Strauss playing for his county whilst his international team mates are preparing for a potentially life-changing payout on Saturday.

Strauss had an interesting take on what might happen: "In some ways it could be like witnessing a train crash and it might be horrible to watch. On the other hand If someone plays a blinder we'll all stand up and applaud how he coped under such pressure."

Strauss, Shaun Udal, Sir Viv and others will be joining us again for the big match on Saturday on Five Live from nine - and if you'd like commentary on Middlesex v the Stanford Superstars then that will be on the BBC London website on Thursday evening from 2120 GMT. Before that on Five Live don't miss our Special Stanford preview programme featuring Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Chris Gayle and a host of other guests joining Arlo White and Jonathan Agnew from 2000.


  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry, but for me this whole 'Super Series' remains a horrible facade of self-publication by the smug and innane Stanford, proof that money can buy you anything, even a national team by any other name to perform under the title you choose for them.

    It is ALL about money and NOTHING to do with cricket. The pitches are clearly not up to scratch and the lights are insufficient.

    I can't wait until its all over and the England team can go back to playing cricket rather than prostituting their talents to this dislikeable individual in order to line their pockets. We can only hope that the ECB will never agree to be involved in this type of farce again, but it is a forlorn hope at best.

  • Comment number 2.

    Tend to agree with Chairman_Chow. However, it's not the players to blame, it's the ECB. And a rock and a hard place for them as they know if they didn't agree to Standford, the players would go to the IPL/ICL at the expense of Test cricket. Still,if I was that good, I wouldn't say no to 2 weeks in the West Indies with a pot of money (potentially) at the end. However, I think the cricket so far has been pretty poor and get the impression that it's not well supported by the W.I. cricket fans (?) and not being discussed much back at home. Not quite the sporting occasion that Stanford had in mind ??

  • Comment number 3.

    Can anyone explain why the game on Saturday starts at 930pm GMT?

    Surely the UK TV rights command more revenue than those from all the Carribean countries?

    Wouldn't Stanford have got more money out of Sky if the game started a couple of hours earlier ie 7.30 UK time? That would still be 3.30 on a Saturday afternoon in Antigua, so a perfectably reasonable time there.

    Or is Stanford thinking people in the US will want to watch?

  • Comment number 4.

    In 20 years time Adam Mountford will be highly embarrassed if he reads his blog again. This whole exercise is in self-service and this blog confirms it.
    Poor pitch, poor lights but -wow- I've met Sir Vivian.
    It isn't Cricket; it is trying to deflect Indian dominance. It has been really boring.

  • Comment number 5.

    +1 for the "this has all been an embarrassing disappointment" camp

  • Comment number 6.

    Just seen "highlights" of last nights game and I have to say it is the first time I have seen good cricketers playing ugly cricket.
    I am a fan of all cricket but this stretches my faith in the game.

    Players trying to smash anything that is bowled to them is fine for village, club and county players where time is short and funds are needed but to see the full english squad getting drawn into this squalid piece of trivia is soul destroying.

    I know a lot of people will disagree and say we need it but we must never replace the longer form of cricket with this, we must find away of playing all types of cricket and not allowing people with money to call the tune.

  • Comment number 7.

    its all a attempt by the ecb to prevent players from going to play in the ipl

    they are jealous that india had the brains to come up with the ipl before england cricket board could.

    they are jealous that another nation is cashing in on the game that they invented.

    and the stanford series in my opinion has been nothing short of trash.

    put simply i hope england players lose and go to play in the ipl.

  • Comment number 8.

    Jules (post 3), the whole thing is being organised by a billionaire to promote himself.

    He doesn't need Sky's money to fund it, so is putting it on at an acceptable local time.

  • Comment number 9.


    Glad you are all having such a good time.
    However, while you're enjoying yourselves, any shred of credibility English cricket had is going up in smoke.

    How is anyone surprised that this has become an ego-trip for Stanford? The ECB should have seen this coming a mile off, but were too worried about appeasing the players who were threatening to go to the IPL (by the way, I bet they still go anyway - England needs them more than they need England!!).

    Sub-standard lights, a poor pitch and a host only interested in promoting himself - a recipe for disaster. The ECB took Stanford's money - they now have to live with the consequences. They have now let the genie out of the bottle, the players demands will continue and in the end, the board will have to cave in.

    Another example of gross mis-management by Giles Clarke and his colleagues.

  • Comment number 10.

    Post #4 is absolutely spot on.

    I hope Adam Mountford is enjoying the fruity cocktails on offer. Clearly having a blog means that objectivity goes out of the window.

    "Highly enjoyable", "dramatic", "great fun", "good natured (sic) banter". NOt exactly cutting. Exactly why is Mr Mountford out there, other than to slurp on the teat of the taxpayer?

  • Comment number 11.

    I've watched quite a bit of the Stanford games (thanks to my other half having satellite tv) and I'm not feeling any atmosphere from what is being shown on the screen. It's just not grabbing me at all.

    Even with the various former West Indian "greats" endorsing Sir Allen Stanford something just doesn't feel right about this series.

    Aggers' report and KP's comments seem to suggest I'm not the only one feeling this way.

    While I'm here, credit to David Morgan for saying that the ICC's decision to retrospectively change the Oval 2006 test's result to a draw was inappropriate.

  • Comment number 12.

    This series just makes me shudder. The only good thing about it was having Strauss in the TMS commentary box last night, hopefully TMS will snap him up when he retires.

    So sad to see the ECB selling their souls.

    I'm going to watch the proper cricket over in India & ignore the shambles happening in the Caribbean.

    Mr Mountford, is Mr Stanford paying you too?

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree with all the comments added. The whole thing is a knee-jerk reaction to the IPL, funded by a self-serving billionaire who probably doesn't care what we think!

    I won't be tuning in.

  • Comment number 14.

    The cricket has been dreadful. The winner hasn't been batting or bowling but underprepared and poor quality wickets. Using poor wickets has been the principle reason why Trinidad and Tobago have been able to compete in my opinion. They do have some talent in there but also a lot of very inepxerienced players. A slow wicket nullifies the thread of opposition quick bowlers, it means they can open with Badree who, as a spinner, looks no different to the like of Dhanraj and Magamootoo in not being able to turn it much, and it means average bowlers look good. The previous Stanford 20-over domestic tournaments were awful to watch for the neutral. It was a celebration of poor cricket.

  • Comment number 15.

    #3 Asks about the timing, I think its this late so it does not clash with X Factor!!
    But it seems to go dark at about 9.30 so it would be fair for both teams to play under the lights, especially as they are so poor.

    But hasn't it been boring for 20/20 and a pointless competition. I think it proves that 20/20 isn't going to be as brilliant as that everyone thought it was going to be. Apologies if you never thought that in the first place. But I am already getting bored with it, its ok in small doses but wall to wall its just not cricket!

    Yes bring on the rest of the winter, who cares if they win this game on Saturday night or not??? That's the point, Stanford has paid 20million for this, and NO-ONE is that bothered about it, except of course the 22 players, however even they don't look that interested!

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh Adam, Mike Selvey was right about your undistinguished debut as TMS top-dog. What has happened to objectivity, or even just telling us what we can see from the Sky coverage? Did Sir Allen sit you on his knee too?

  • Comment number 17.

    You read like the local radio person you once were. No analysis, no journalism, a desire not to offend...I can almost hear you saying " And now, from 1983, Kajagoogoo's monster hit" at the end of your 'blog'

  • Comment number 18.

    Come back Peter Baxter, please.

  • Comment number 19.

    None of it really matters does it - even the England captain seems to agree.

    Find it rather sad as there is truly important and gripping TEST cricket in India at the moment.

  • Comment number 20.

    So I keep reading that Stanford's ambition is to make a market for this product in the US. Well, I live in the US and I have no clue where I can actually watch these games. They might have created the product but they've forgotten to sell it outside the Caribbean and the UK.

  • Comment number 21.

    There are two issues here: Firstly There is the moronic response (To the IPL) of Giles Clarke and the ECB to prostitute the England Cricket team as money mercenaries in the Carribean playing fiddle to the whims of a "now dubious seeming" billionaire. The games have been mediocre and hardly watching save Tuesday nights match. Giles Clarke had given an interview with the BBC on TV in May 08 reassuring that while the IPL was drawn up in haste, the Stanford series would be measured and calculated. Apparent rubbish !
    What happens if tommorow another Billionaire e.g Sir Richard Branson decides to run a superstar tournament ? Would the ECB comply ? The ECB is stuck now ha with the terms of the contract ($14 on default) + You have a seemingly philandering billionaire as a patron to your purses !
    The best resolve would be to keep a 20/20 tournament in England and not prostitue our national team especially ahead of an important series against India. The ICC should really tighten things and only recognise 1-2 tournaments per country and bring up an official tournament schedule during the whole year which doesnt clash and we can all play and enjoy good cricket. Cricketeers would be more busier of course: but hey arnet they paid to perform
    The other issue is the English cricket watching public really need to get real: We scoff the fact that Cricketers will get instantly rich in the IPL , yet we endorse our team to be prostitued ( wives and girlfriends also put at risk ) to a Whimsical Billionaire who has no cricket lineage whatsoever ? Were eyebrows raised when Rebel tours were done in S Africa during apartheid ? Was it for the cause of cricket or just furthering ones finances ?Also why do we never question the amount of money being poured into football where young brutes have earned millions ??

  • Comment number 22.

    Another day of stories surrounding this Stanford Super Series. This morning Jonathan Agnew broke the news that the ECB are to carry out an urgent review of the event amid reports that the England players and officials are unhappy at how the week has gone. We spoke to several members of the England team today and although most were fairly diplomatic Andrew Flintoff for example admitted that he's now just looking forward to the India tour whilst Ian Bell told us he did have some concerns that this event may prove a distraction in a huge year for the team.
    As I wrote in my blog on sunday there have been concerns expressed about the quality of the pitch and the lights at the ground which have made catches a lottery. As I say here the games so far have been largely enjoyable ,but it is true that has been despite the surfaces provided rather than because of it. Also it has become clear that the incident I mention here regarding Sir Allen Stanford and the players wives is not the only aspect of the texan billionaires involvement that is worrying the ECB.
    This week always promised a rich vein of stories and who knows what we may get on Thursday !

  • Comment number 23.

    Give the guy a break. He is actually deviating from the English medias default setting (decided upon before arriving in the caribbean) and calling it as how he is experiencing and seeing it. Yes this game is put on by a self promoting ego maniac - but that is no different to the IPL - just there are several of them running it in India - here just one!
    Reading caribbean cricket forums there seems to be a much more positive view of it over there - i also think the Caribbean team will end up winning as they are more focussed and used to the conditions. My main hope is this exercise benefits West Indies cricket - as cricket without a strong West Indies side is never as good.
    Yes, Test cricket should always be the main act. i am more interested in any test cricket anywhere than any ther cricket. But the British media (including broadsheets and the BBC) tend to give scant coveage to anything that doesnt involve England. then when they do its always with an 'ashes' angle - as if no other country or series matters. Shame!

  • Comment number 24.

    My esteemed friend mittheimp forgets that the IPL is run by a sound financial consortium of blue chip companies and not any individual, I think most "cricket lovers" need to get their double standards out of their system: Its bad to play for an organised lucrative and entertaining set up like IPL but its okay to play in the Carribean where you can blame the lights..venues etc etc and then moan about your benefactor as well !!

  • Comment number 25.

    The ECB probably forgot to clarify with this American Tycoon that the game is called Cricket and its played on the field.
    Probably Mr.Stanford thought it was:
    CRICKET 20/20
    WIVES 50/50
    No wonder why he wanted to play huge sums of money.

  • Comment number 26.

    Have to agree with invisiblenewsman.

    A poorly written and worryingly out-of-touch article from the producer of all english cricket on the BBC.

  • Comment number 27.

    The only reason Mr. Stanford contacted England is that because South Africa, etc, refused to take part.

    The reason the ECB said yes was to make a few quid and i get a feeling they hoped by doing so it would hold the IPL at bay.

    Ironically it seems that the ECB are to let centrally contracted players join in the jambory that is the IPL.

    Personally i think if the whole Stanford 20-20 goes ahead again as planned, then Mr. Stanford would do well to keep a low profile.
    We all know hes bank rolling the event and he's everso important...but we, the cricketing public, enjoy the game played and not the games being 'played'.

    His conduct has been a touch inapropriate but i also think that the only people with anything to complane about are Mr. and Mrs. Prior.

    Also, am i the only person who would rather watch tests over one day or 20-20 matches?


    Ps, sorry about the poor smelling. I'm at work, dyslexic and without word to correct me. (I meant to say smelling and not spelling...genius!!)

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't know what match you are watching adam, but stanford 20-20 is an absolute mockery of cricket. After India has started IPL, the ECB people have gone about saying how they would protect test cricket and the game in general. On evidence of the stanford circus, they are actually destroying the game and have no right to critisize the IPL.

  • Comment number 29.

    Having heard Sir Allen speak to Messrs Agnew and White on 5Live tonight - I remain convinced that although he is a self-promoting, 'larger-than-life Texan' (so to speak), he did not hoodwink the E(W)CB into signing up to this deal. Stanford has behaved with integrity - if not always discreetly.

    I will watch on Saturday night, but not necessarily for the cricket. I don't like it, but I don't resent Stanford either, for he openly purchased the England XI for this one week. But who put the England XI on sale in the first place? Not Stanford.

  • Comment number 30.

    It's an absolute disgrace. Multi-millionaires once knew how to behave, but these days the world seems to have gone crazy.

    Now all the great cultural and sporting events are devalued by the mega-rich who use the power of their wealth to undermine all those things we hold dear.

    20/20 cricket, tennis players in orange shirts, opera singers belting out Abba, paintings (worth millions) made entirely out of bodily's getting so upsetting that I am disappointed we didn't get a full-blown economic depression so that at least some of them would have found a skyscraper (which they used to own) to jump off.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm disappointed by the amount of people moaning here.

    Come on chaps, it's a bit of harmless fun for Saturday night. A fluff game, nothing more.

    I'm looking forward to it, and will be glued to the radio no doubt.

    At least Stanford has got people talking about cricket, that can't be a bad thing.

  • Comment number 32.

    "At least Stanford has got people talking about cricket, that can't be a bad thing "

    Yeah, and at least The Ripper got us talking about murder and that can't be a bad thing....

  • Comment number 33.

    What a shame. (The ripper!?!?!?)

    I will be supporting the players who represent my country tomorrow.

    Maybe they shouldn't be there. But they are. And good luck to them. None of this is their fault.

    Maybe the guy paying for it lost it all when he cavorted with the players' wives. But I believe, overall he is trying to be a positive influence on the game.

    And maybe this is a fashion vs. style thing. Test matches will not be superseded by 20/20 games, they are completely different disciplines. And both are perfectly capable of drawing full houses if marketed correctly.

    The lights are wrong, the pitch is wrong, this is not a particularly good example all round, but I am still looking forward to cheering on my team whatever.

  • Comment number 34.

    I was there for the whole wives thing
    It was not Sir Allen doing the cavorting
    Not as one way as the Uk press are portraying it

    Eccentric ..yes
    Brash American ..yes
    Also a huge philanthropist who has provided massive opportunities over here for many

    He has certainly revived the game in this part of the world
    The English took the beating of their lives
    After the entire week of complaining about everything possible this sent them packing with their tails tucked ..even the English fans were happy to see their own team whipped.


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