It is now English cricketers' turn to become millionaires with Texas billionaire Allen Stanford and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announcing at Lord's Wednesday a five-year programme of Twenty20 matches and quadrangular international tournaments worth almost $150 million.
Stanford is putting up $9.5 million for each of five annual four-team events to be held in England from 2009, a total of $47.5 million. The first tournament is expected to feature New Zealand and Sri Lanka alongside England and West Indies, according to a report in The Times.
The announcement of the quadrangular tournament has been timed to coincide with the start of the domestic Twenty20 Cup and comes four days after confirmation of a Champions League involving the leading clubs in England, India, Australia and South Africa, which will earn the winners $5 million.
Stanford has already decided to put another $100 million into five matches between England and his West Indies' All Stars Twenty20 series. The first will take place at his ground in Antigua November 1.
If England win, each of the XI players will receive $1 million, while the rest of the squad share $1 million and the management team splits another $1 million. The remaining $7 million is to be shared equally between the ECB and the West Indies Cricket Board, regardless of the result.
The money at stake is far more than what the winners of inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) could pocket. Rajasthan Royals took only $1.2 million for winning the IPL, while total prize-money for the 2007 World Cup was $5 million.
Players like Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen would earn about $ 774,727.61 in three hours, which is more than they make playing as an England-contracted player, not counting win bonuses and endorsements.
Stanford wanted a large proportion of the prize to go to the winners to add to the hype and believes that interest will stretch beyond cricket's traditional boundaries.
Historians will identify India's victory over Pakistan in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 final in Johannesburg last September as a significant turning point for the sport because it popularised in the biggest marketplace an idea born in England in 2003.