The fallout from EnglandPaul Wood |
For the Stanford Superstars it was sheer joy, just rewards for their six weeks of preparation for the one-off cash bonanza. For England it was a missed opportunity to boost their bank balances to the tune of around 619,000 pounds, and coming up woefully short will torment them in moments of quiet reflection.
While the England players still enjoy a good return from their playing contracts, the harsh reality of self-destructing when in touching distance of a life-changing figure will no doubt be the cause of a few sleepless nights, contemplating the what ifs.
However, the truth is, England were only ever close to claiming the small fortune prior to the game actually starting. Once underway the home team assumed control and never relinquished their tight grip from around England’s throats and the crate of dollars that was on offer. It is possible England underestimated their opponents, I wouldn’t go as far as to say they felt that their appearance on the night would be enough, but how meticulous were the plans made to restrict hard hitting Andre Fletcher, how would they counter the loping deliveries of Sulieman Benn and how aggressive would they be against Keiron Pollard’s medium pace.
It is obviously a dangerous game when focus drifts, and already minds may have been thinking of new dream properties, luxury holidays, or in some cases, new pink Ferrari’s.
Whether you agree with how Allen Stanford has projected himself during the tournament, you cannot deny he gave players selected the chance to make a considerable change to their lives. It will be hard for England’s squad to come to terms with that type of cash slipping from their grasp. Had they won it, they may have forgiven the man who bankrolled the whole project for his perceived indiscretions during the week.
Peter Moores spoke of the cluttered mindsets during the trip to Antigua, unsure of whether they are playing for England or for the money. It is difficult for any of us outside of the group to know exactly what was going through the minds of the players, but ?619,000 should be enough to focus even the most confused thoughts.
The problem now for this set of English players is to get their minds on the job they are actually paid for, and that is to represent their country in the unforgiving environment of India. If they thought this week was tough, from the minute they land in India on November 6 they will be preparing to face an Indian side high on quality, wickets they notoriously struggle on, and all for a much smaller prize pot.
At least cricket will be the sole focus, the players will be able to concentrate on answering more cricketing based questions from the media. It is easier said than done, but the Stanford Super Series must be put firmly behind them, as there are few tougher challenges in cricket than an Indian tour, as Australia can currently testify to. They cannot afford to carry players still pondering what might have been, while struggling to find the motivation in the harsher surroundings of India. There has been a lot of talk of playing for the badge, now is a good time to show how much it means.
Of course there will always be next year, when this match takes place again, and despite the feeling of uneasiness the English players have felt throughout this week, it will no doubt all be put to one side again in 2009 as they queue up to take their places in the starting eleven, and quite honestly who can blame them. But the next challenge for the England squad is a much more difficult proposition in the cricketing sense, and one they need to rise to.