Stanford sees Tests safe
Allen Stanford says Test cricket can continue to survive alongside the newer Twenty20 format.
And he insisted England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke and chief executive David Collier were "not dancing to my tune" in a bid to keep pace with the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Texan billionaire is currently bankrolling the Stanford Super Series at his own ground in Antigua, which got underway last week and culminates with the extraordinary 20-million-dollar winner-takes-all clash between England and his own Caribbean Superstars this weekend.
Many cricket lovers fear the rise of Twenty20, and particularly the creation of the lucrative IPL and Stanford tournaments, which offer players the chance to earn sums they might not bank during the course of a standard international career, poses a threat to the future of Test cricket.
The five-day game is regarded as the ultimate in cricket by most players but, outside of England and Australia, is struggling to bring in the crowds.
Back in June, Stanford launched the Super Series by landing at Lord's in his private helicopter and then unveiling a perspex box filled with 20 million dollars' worth of notes, before announcing he found Test cricket "boring".
But Stanford denied Twenty20 was threatening the existence of Test cricket, telling BBC Radio Five Live on Monday: "I think just the opposite.
"I think you have to look at it from two perspectives: the foundation of the sport is Test cricket, the future of the game is Twenty20.
"Both can co-exist. Maybe one is more for the purist, maybe one is more for the younger, the 'want to see it now, be entertained now' crowd.
"Like Lord's is the foundation of cricket, it's the beginning, it's the holy grail of cricket.
"You can no more do away with that which is Test cricket and replace it with Twenty20 than you can say that Test cricket is the only thing out there.
"(That) would be foolish because professional sport, unfortunately, is about money and Twenty20 is what is going to drive, commercially, the dollars in the door," said Stanford, the backer of a West Indian domestic Twenty20 event.
Indian officials appear to have stolen a march on their counterparts in England, where Twenty20 was pioneered as a professional format, in the race to stage annual multi-national Twenty20 events with the creation of the IPL and the Champions League.
Clarke and Collier, on behalf of the ECB, were accused in some quarters of being almost pathetically grateful to grab a share of Stanford's largesse but the businessman was adamant it had not been a lop-sided negotiation.
"They are not dancing to my tune, I respect them both greatly," he said.
"The ECB had the best management structure in my estimation -- you've got over two million involved in cricket in the UK all being managed under the ECB and they are not dancing to any tune I have laid out."
The sheer scale of Stanford's 20 million dollars investment in one match took many by surprise but he insisted it made long-term economic sense.
"It is the single biggest pay day in the history of team sports but in relative terms for what we have envisioned in this multi-billion sport it is really just an investment in the future.
"It's part of the bigger plan and that plan is to get this game into a commercially viable foothold.
"We'll have at least 700 million people watching this event globally on Saturday on live television, and the 20 million dollars is what got us there."