The Middle Stump's guest blogger, Thorpster, gives us his take on slimeball, Allen Stanford and a few other businessmen who, over the years, have professed to be the "saviour" of their club or game, whilst actually being ethically barely higher up than a snake's arse!
The boys at The Middle Stump caught up with Stanford
Now many cricketers I have come across at club level have fancied themselves in the art of seduction. But never has a seduction been so complete, as that of the ECB, by the man now know as the worlds 2nd biggest Ponzi scheme operator, Mr Allen Stanford. Seduction by a Hansie Cronje (in Middle Stump terminology) is not uncommon in any walk of life, but Giles Clarke and the ECB fell for the overt charms of the tashed, tanned, Texan tycoon, hook, line and sinker.
At that time, the threat of our domestic and international schedule being torpedoed by the now little heard of ICL and the now, widely heard of IPL, had almost turned the executives to panic in the offices of ECB. The threat was real, make no bones about it. Look at the example of Christopher Gayle, the Jamaican opening batsman and former standard bearer of the West Indies. His relationship with the WI cricket board became as harmonious as that of Gatt and Shakoor Rana. The consequence of that Jimmy Tarbuck (difference of opinion), and the availability of free flowing dough, as a gun for hire across the thriving T20 scene across the globe, has led to him having more clubs than Jack Nicklaus and more homes than Simon Cowell. Oh and whilst on the subject, it has stripped the Windies and more importantly the international scene, of one its most exciting stroke makers.
So back to the TTTT (the Tashed, Tanned, Texan Tycoon) and his transparent casket of 20 million dollar bills. At the time you could sense the desperation of the ECB, having had more blow outs than Nigel Mansell, from other cricket boards, and he became "the saviour" of the English game. As the dough was dropped in and the suited dandipratts and sycophants fawned over him, my overriding memory was Beefy wearing jeans and a casual shirt, with a sweater draped over his shoulder, however the DF Attack was nowhere to be seen!
Years on and we know what followed. First the farcical "super" series and 20/20 for $20 million, with "England" mullered. Not only that but our boys were horrified as they ended up with no dough, and TTTT himself entering the sanctity of the dressing room. They were most angered however by pictures of some of the WAGS forced to awkwardly sit on the lap of the Texan as he grinned from ear to ear (no mention of his middle stump). A few years on and he is about to be sentenced to what would equate to a good test average in years, and has been airbrushed from memory. He has also recently been given a differing sort of punishment by his fellow lags. But given the back drop, can the ECB be castigated?
Not a good moment for English cricket
Many Hansies have infiltrated sport at one level or another. Even the owner of one of London's biggest football teams has admitted in court to making much of his dough, via rigged state auctions. The owners of Birmingham, Portsmouth and Glasgow Rangers are up to their necks in wrongdoing. The problem has been that in general, sporting bodies have based their fit and proper persons test on whether the potential investor has the funds, not where they came from. This is understandable given that back in the days of the Gray Nicholls Scoop, and SS Jumbo, we had witnessed the claims of the potless "aristocrat" Spencer Trethewy, supposed to be the saviour of Aldershot FC. I personally watched Michael Knighton, the Carlisle Butcher, juggle the ball at Theatre of Dreams in August 1989, as he claimed to have the £10 million or so, that the Edwards family were prepared to part with what now is the biggest football club in the world, for.
Cricket now fights corruption in the wake of the Pakistan spot fixing case which was the subject of one of my earlier articles on this site. But one of the main protagonists, Mazar Majeed also infiltrated football by buying Croydon FC, leading to the tragic suicide of the chairman who had given his life to the club.
How many counties today live on the edge of bankruptcy fearing a wet summer, or some other unexpected increase in cost, or loss of revenue. If a local "business man" turned up offering to prop up the club he "loved", could anyone guarantee they wouldn't be seduced?
Allen Stanford, Mazar Majeed and, from the IPL, the now disgraced Lalit Mohdi are all examples at differing levels of how cricket has fallen for the charms of a been worse off for the charms of a "rich man". Can we be sure that it will never happen again?