Superstars crush England to collect jackpot win

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Stanford Superstars made the quickest million dollars of any group of cricketers in history after thrashing England by 10 wickets in the final.

Updated: November 02, 2008 17:02 IST
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Coolidge, Antigua:

The Stanford Superstars made the quickest million dollars of any group of cricketers in history after thrashing England by 10 wickets in the Stanford Twenty20 finale.

Chasing a target of just 100 runs, the Superstars, a collection of experienced and promising West Indian players, pulverised England with more than seven overs to spare.

Superstars captain Chris Gayle had the privilege of hitting the winning runs, when he lofted Andrew Flintoff for the last of his five sixes in an unbeaten 65 off 45 balls over long-on to spark tumultuous celebrations around the Stanford Cricket Ground on Saturday.

The victory meant that all members of the Superstars XI became instant millionaires, pocketing exactly one million dollars each.

Meanwhile a further one million dollars was split between the Superstars squad players who didn't play yesterday and the victorious coaching staff.

The remaining prize money in the 20 million dollar pot will be shared between the the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

But the England team got nothing after losing this winner-takes-all clash.

There had been much talk from both within and outside the England camp about the correctness of a national side taking part in an 'exhibition' match for such a staggering sum.

And series backer Allen Stanford was forced to apologise after being pictured with Emily Prior, the pregnant wife of England wicket-keeper Matt, sitting on his knee during a warm-up match last weekend.

England captain Kevin Pietersen said the "nonsense" had been a distraction.

"During the week we haven't been concentrating on the cricket, there's been a lot of nonsense during the week and we haven't concentrated on the cricket," Pietersen told Sky Sports.

Officials at the ECB have signed a five-year contract with Stanford for the team's participation in this event and Pietersen added: "We're going to have to buy into the competition a lot more."

Stanford, the man behind the Caribbean's domestic Twenty20 tournament, said he hoped this victory would provide a springboard for renewed West Indies success at the international level.

England had been dismissed for just 99 in one ball short of their permitted 20 overs, after choosing to bat under the lights on a hard, easy-paced pitch.

Andre Fletcher, who finished on 32 not out, smashed four consecutive boundaries off Stuart Broad in the second over of the innings.

Gayle subsequently destroyed Stephen Harmison in a sensational fifth over that cost England's premier fast bowler 22 runs and concluded with the Test left-hander middling two straight hits for six.

Earlier, England's batsmen paid a heavy price for cavalier batting against mean, purposeful bowling supported by sharp fielding.

Samit Patel's 22 was the top score in an innings where only two other batsmen -- Matt Prior (12) and Paul Collingwood (10) -- got to double figures.

Man-of-the-match Darren Sammy took two wickets to get rid of Owais Shah, brilliantly caught in the deep by Dave Mohammed, and Pietersen, who was bowled round his legs for just seven by the medium-pacer.

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