LONDON // The Stanford Superstars scooped the richest prize in cricket after crushing England by 10 wickets in a one-sided Twenty20 US$20 million (Dh73.4m) challenge in Antigua last night. The West Indian select team bowled England out for 99 in the last of their 20 overs and then raced to their target with seven overs to spare led by their captain Chris Gayle, who ended unbeaten on 65 after finishing the match with a six.
Each member of the victorious team takes home $1m with another $1m being shared by four non-playing squad members. The remainder of the prize pot goes to the English and West Indies cricket boards. After winning the toss and choosing to bat, England never got going and, with wickets falling all too regularly, failed to construct any sort of partnership. The England captain Kevin Pietersen said poor preparation had been behind the humiliating defeat.
"It started during the week, there has been a lot of nonsense and unfortunately I don't think we concentrated hard enough on our cricket," Pietersen told Sky Sports. "The main focus should have been to come in and concentrate on our cricket and that's what we've got to focus on." The second half of the innings continued in the same style with England struggling to get bat on ball and wickets tumbling.
Samit Patel top scored with 22 while Matt Prior (12) and Paul Collingwood (10) were the only others to make double figures as England's bid to scrape 100 fell short when Steve Harmison was bowled by Sulieman Been off the penultimate ball. The wickets were shared pretty evenly with three for Benn, two each for Darren Sammy including the prize wicket of Pietersen Jerome Taylor and Kieron Pollard and one run out.
The Superstars, who prepared for the game in a six-week training camp, set about the chase in emphatic style with Andre Fletcher ungainly crashing three successive Stuart Broad balls for boundaries in the second over. Gayle got in on the act in the fifth over from Harmison, smashing the game's first six, and then another in a over that produced 22 runs to further emphasise the difference in class.
The 50 came up in the sixth over and the left-hander Gayle continued to dominate with two more huge sixes before reaching his personal 50 in the 11th over. With Fletcher unbeaten on 32 from 31 balls, Gayle finished it off perfectly by thumping another six over long on to set off wild scenes of celebration. The match financier Allen Stanford said in the post-match presentation the tournament had been a success.
"Our cricket in the Caribbean is back," the American added. "Three years ago we started an experiment to get young kids who were going elsewhere back into cricket and to reward the best players. The results are here tonight, this programme is working." *Reuters