St John’s, Antigua – The inaugural Stanford 20/20 Tournament being held in Antigua starting on 11 July will break for Antigua Carnival in early August, but if the home team captures the Tournament’s US$1 million jackpot prize, the festivities are sure to continue well past the month of August.
According to the local folks, home advantage is key for the boys of Antigua and Barbuda as they prepare to win the 20/20 Tournament created by Antiguan financier Allen Stanford. Stanford has made a US$28 million investment in cricket around the region with US$6 million going directly to local cricket in the 19 countries participating in the competition.
Antigua and Barbuda, which has given cricket lovers the likes of Sir Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Richie Richardson, Curtly Ambrose and Ridley Jacobs is setting its sights on the top prize. Sylvester Joseph will lead the team in this summer’s action-packed event.
‘We believe the home advantage can definitely work in our favour,’ said Enoch Lewis, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association. ‘It should provide us that added impetus to go the extra mile. The crowd support – the 12th man as they call it – will motivate the players, give them an incentive and help them to focus on the ultimate goal. If we don’t win, we at least have to be very competitive.’
Lewis, a director on the West Indies Cricket Board and a former Antigua and Leeward Islands batsman was speaking at the presentation of the first drawdown of US$100,000 from Stanford which is to be used toward the development of facilities. Antigua, like the other countries, will receive a total of US$280,000 from the Stanford 20/20 initiative.
‘We are going to select our best team for the tournament because the objective is to win. We are looking at getting all the pieces together, and if we have to look back at a few players who have performed well in the past, we will do so as we seek the right combination to win the tournament,’ Lewis firmly declared.
Lewis says he hopes to have his team play some matches against other islands in preparation for the Stanford 20/20, and also revealed that if his team can pull off the massive upset of winning the Stanford title, it will be another stepping stone in Antigua’s bid to have its own team in the West Indies Cricket Board limited-overs competition.
In the 1980s and 1990s, when the team was extremely strong, Antigua and Barbuda felt they could have gone it alone, and this fire was rekindled in 2003 when they competed in the Red Stripe Bowl and defeated powerhouse Barbados.
‘We have produced some top-quality players and we believe we can play at the next level.’
When asked how Stanford’s development funding will be spent, Lewis says that the Association is looking at constructing a high-performance centre, an idea that has been on the table for many years. Plans have been drawn up and the Association is currently in talks with the government about a steel-framed building that they hope to utilize for the project.
‘We need to be able to finance the centre and look at programmes that will be beneficial to players. Once we get confirmation, we will then look to the corporate community to help underwrite some of the costs involved.’
On Wednesday, 19 July, Antigua will face the winner of the match between BVI and St. Lucia.
ABOUT THE STANFORD 20/20 TOURNAMENT
The Stanford 20/20 Tournament is the brainchild of Antiguan financier and developer Allen Stanford. The tournament will take place in Summer 2006 and feature 19 Caribbean countries all vying for the top spot and the top prize: US$1 million.
The Stanford 20/20 is a single elimination knockout competition where the winning team will receive US$1 million and the second place finisher US$500,000. The cricket boards of the top two teams will receive US$200,000 and US$100,000, respectively, which must be used toward the development and improvement of the cricket facilities in those countries. In addition, the Man of the Match in every game will receive US$25,000 while the Man of the Match in the final game will receive US$100,000.
Stanford has also put together a US$28 million budget that will be invested in cricket in the region up to November 2006, at which time a Stanford Super Star team will be selected by the legends to play one match each against two world-class teams to be named. This will be a winner-takes-all competition with a US$5 million grand prize in each match.
In order to create an atmosphere for each of the nations to excel within the tournament and to ensure their long-term development, Stanford has included over US$5 million in support for them, financially and otherwise. Each country’s governing cricket body has received US$100,000 to be used for improvement of facilities, training and other development of the team and its members. An additional US$10,000 stipend per month will be given to support the team, and US$5,000 per month will be disbursed to be used strictly for maintenance and upkeep of each country’s facilities. Stanford will also be hiring a full time nutritionist and four professional athletic trainers to travel around the region regularly in order to train the teams and assist them wherever needed.