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Stanford T20 - Living it and loving it
by Vaneisa Baksh
Jan 29, 2008
By Vaneisa Baksh - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

The second edition of the Stanford 20/20 Tournament kicked off in pyrotechnic splendour with an extraordinarily extravagant fireworks display that loudly proclaimed the intent to dazzle and entertain for the month of cricket that features twenty teams.

An organisational model of excellence that should serve to instruct others on how to do things efficiently without losing regard for the culture of a place, the event demonstrates how even small places can master massive feats.

One of the interesting aspects of this tournament is that four of the teams have been retained by Allen Stanford, the tournament’s creator and financier, on professional contracts.

The teams to benefit from this so far are Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Anguilla and Nevis. Home team, Antigua and Barbuda, under coach Eldine Baptiste, a former West Indies bowling all-rounder, was the first of the Stanford Pro teams.

“These players are going to live, eat and breathe cricket,” said Allen Stanford at their recruitment. It must have seemed a bit intimidating to these young men, accustomed as they have been to cricket as part-time lover, but they are adjusting to this new disciplined schedule, and time will reveal its impact.

Former West Indies player, Sylvester Joseph, who captains the home team, told one reporter that the hardest thing to get used to was the idea of coaching and training every day, but the squad can now see the improvements and welcome it.

St. Lucia coach, Roger Harper, said his team trains five days a week and the most important element was instilling the discipline for them to sustain a certain standard. At the opening match, which St. Lucia won, putting on 134 in their 20 overs to beat the Cayman Islands who only got to 88-8, it was evident that Harper had passed on some of his superb fielding techniques to his charges.

Although there are only four professional teams so far, the intention is to get all participating teams operating under contracts and thus become part of a professional league. The concept of a regional professional league has been hotly debated over the past few years as one way to improve the calibre of players coming through the ranks. Former fast bowler, Curtly Ambrose thinks it is the best way forward at developing the talent pool. As he sees it, it is all working towards the development of West Indies cricket.

It may take some time to get enough teams involved to make a league feasible, and it may take some more to begin to see the results of players dedicated to working on their game all year through. One thing is certain: it can only be an improvement to the ad hoc and fitful episodes that pass for training in the West Indies.

 
More Views by Vaneisa Baksh
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