This has not been a good week for West Indies cricket. First the Antigua Test was delayed when the original track in the islands big new stadium had to be abandoned for fear of causing harm to bowlers. The subsequent start of play at the Antigua Recreation Ground did bring unexpected cheer. The ARG has been one of Test crickets favourite spaces; this was Viv Richards playground,it was the laboratory for some of the Caribbeans most lasting experiments in bringing local music into cricket arena,and its very geography made it a unique viewing experience for faraway television audiences as crowds filled up its stands as a Test progressed.
So this one,it could be argued,turned out well.
Not quite. Writing on the fourth days play on Wednesday,a cricket writer rounded up a match report on the gritty heroics of Ramnaresh Sarwan,with these words: The biggest queues of the day were not outside the ARG,but the various Allen Stanford-owned banks in and around St Johns. And that in a nutshell is the bolt of lightning that has hit the Caribbean.
Stanford,a Texan financier who hit cricket headlines with plans to fund mega-tournaments involving England and West Indies cricket and by landing his helicopter in Lords has been accused by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of fraud worth $8 billion. An already funds-starved West Indies Cricket Board now sees some of its ventures at risk. Now,whats American for this is not cricket? Banks in the region as far away as Mexico and Venezuela reeling from the revelation of the fraud too may want that translation. As would the people of Antigua and Barbuda: Stanford was the first American to be knighted by that former British colony.