What does it feel like to earn a million dollars in three hours? England's players had a chance to find out just this at the Stanford Twenty20 for 20 (million) bash in the West Indies. But the local team, the Stanford Superstars, won with ease and walked away with the winner-take-all prize money.
The Stanford experiment, as some people have called it, has raised eyebrows around the world, with the English media being severe in its criticism of the whole event. Just did the players think about it? HT asked some questions.
Ian Bell, batsman: It was different from the usual weekend of international cricket. It was a good experience, but I don't think it was the best time before the India tour. A lot of the players are going to say this (India tour) means more and winning out here would be one of the biggest achievements in their career. Hopefully, it (Stanford) will not affect the way we have prepared. We have come at the back of a great result against South Africa and we are hoping to carry on. We will all skip Stanford and go back to how we played at the end of our summer.
Graeme swann, off-spinner: It was a strange experience, like a circus. Even when we trained in the nets, it didn't seem real. The way we performed in the games summed up how we went for it. We had a two-horse race and came fourth!
I don't think the timing was ideal. Had we gone there and swept aside everyone and won the money, it could have been a distraction, as it was --- we looked into each other's pockets, drove each other mad, the pressure of the game and playing so badly. But we all sat down afterwards and the spirit in the change room was the best I have been involved in. We all laughed at each other. It was a funny sort of atmosphere. We all bonded well and we said 'We are going to use this as a springboard and are going to India, where we will play proper cricket against a good team and where we are going to be judged by peers not for a T20 but by playing in an ODI series'.
Ravinder Bopara, batsman: It was a one-off game. We know in cricket or any sport, there has never been such a high reward in terms of cash. It is nice to know we have another try at it the next couple of years.
Owais Shah, batsman: I enjoyed the pressure of playing in front of big crowds for a big sum of money. I can look back and say 'I played in it'. It was hard work and mentally challenging. There is so much cricket that the importance of every tour has gone through the roof. Such is the calendar. We happened to go for the Stanford series before the India tour. That is life.
Sidebottom to miss practice matches
On his first tour to India, England's left-arm paceman Ryan Sidebottom is sweating, but because of question marks over his fitness rather than the Mumbai humidity. "I am still not a hundred per cent fit," the curly-haired player said. "I've had a bad time with injuries but that's the way it goes.”
Sidebottom, 30, is sure to miss the two practice games at the Brabourne stadium on November 9 and 11 and will be fighting the clock to get back into action once the ODIs come calling. He has been down with an Achilles tendon problem in recent months. "I could miss the first one-day international --- but I hope I'll be available for selection after that."