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Stanford Twenty20 for 20: Stanford All-Stars team are Taylor-made for big payday

Twenty20 RSS / / 25 September 2008 /

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Andrew Hughes talks us through the household names like Chris Gayle, Chanderpaul and Jerome Taylor (pictured) as well as the lesser-known ones that will make up the Stanford All-Stars ahead of the biggest game in cricket history.

Since it was announced in the spring, the Stanford Twenty20 for Twenty has inspired acres of newspaper comment, most of it negative. Traditionalists, already aghast at the very idea of Twenty20 cricket are repelled by the vast amounts of cash on offer. What about the effect on morale? What about those who miss out? Even the English players have been at pains to downplay the motivating effect of all that lucre.

But Allen Stanford doesn't care. He is convinced that Twenty20 is the future and he has hitched his business wagon to it. Even the latest kerfuffle about sponsorship with Digicel slapping an injunction on the game is unlikely to derail it. Part exhibition match, part gameshow, this strange looking event is another pawn on the gameboard of global cricket politics.

But underneath the hype and hyperventilation, there is a cricket match and whenever bat meets ball, there's a chance for the informed punter to make money. My Betfair colleague Ed Hawkins has already given you the definitive analysis of the English squad (link ) so today we're taking a look at their opponents, the Stanford Superstars.

'Superstar' is of course a relative term. Aside from Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, this is not a stellar cast, indeed if he weren't from Texas, you might suspect Mr Stanford of perpetrating a huge irony. But this won't be the usual lacklustre West Indies outfit. The seventeen man squad was named after some intensive training and a series of hard-fought practice games. And we shouldn't forget that most of these players are paupers by comparison with their English opponents. A million dollars goes a long way.

If they are to claim the prize though, they will rely on the old hands. Gayle is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world and capable, if in the mood, of winning the game on his own. Sarwan impressed in the practice games and he will be both finisher and the man to hold the innings together in the event of early setbacks. Jerome Taylor is the classiest bowler in the side and his pace could cause havoc.

The rest of the squad is made up of fringe internationals and a number of players who've made their name in the domestic Stanford Twenty20 tournament. Exciting opener Xavier Marshall will not be there, having failed a drugs test, but there are others to look out for, such as Trinidad's Kieran Pollard, a strapping all-rounder who gives the ball a hefty whack and bowls a decent line in medium pace containment. I like the look of big hitting wicket-keeper Andre Fletcher and left-armer Dave Mohammed, who's nagging spin bowling earned him the man of the match award in this year's Stanford Twenty20 Final.

Dwayne Bravo's injury means they will probably want to play an extra batsman and former Antiguan captain Sylvester Joseph is the most likely candidate. With Gayle likely to open with Fletcher, Joseph will come in at five after Chanderpaul and Sarwan. They could play as many as three all-rounders in the middle order, with Pollard followed by Darren Sammy and veteran Lennox Cush, a US resident who offers some tight off spin.

Of the contenders to support Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell is in danger of being overtaken, by either Rayad Emrit, an accurate seamer from Trinidad who also knows which end of the bat is which or Chad Hampson, a young quick from Antigua who came from nowhere and looked pretty impressive in the practice games. They are also likely to find room for one of their two spinners, either Dave Mohammed or Sulieman Benn of Barbados, both capable of bowling with miserly economy.

West Indies cricket may be at the lowest ebb in its history, but Twenty20 is a great leveller and this is a team capable of causing England some problems, with a nice balance of big hitters and plentiful bowling options. KP's men are currently big favourites at [1.69] but the IPL should have taught us the dangers of taking short odds about any team in this volatile format. The [2.28] on offer about the Superstars looks quite tempting.

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