South Africa step up as Stanford stuns cricket
South Africa had every reason to look back fondly on 2008, a year in
which Allen Stanford became a name known to all cricket fans and the
once all-conquering Australia came back to the pack.
Even before the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne started, the Proteas had
arguably completed their best year since the end of their
apartheid-induced exile in 1991.
Their six-wicket win against Australia in the Perth series opener,
where South Africa chased down 414 to record the second-highest fourth
innings winning total in Test history, was the latest of several
impressive results on the road this year.
They shared the spoils in India and then enjoyed a first series win
in England since 1965 as the Proteas, led from the front by batsman
Graeme Smith, began to rid themselves of their unwanted tag of
With India, inspired by Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, getting
387 to beat England at Chennai, the question, as the year ended with a
dearth of truly great bowlers, was what now constituted an unassailable
Here perhaps was a sign of the beneficial effect of Twenty20 on Test
cricket - teams were chasing totals that would have overawed their
How beneficial the Stanford Twenty20 was to anyone but the Caribbean
Superstars who thrashed England by 10 wickets to claim the million
dollars-a-man winner-takes-all prize, was a much-debated point.
In a year which saw the launch of the Indian Premier League, it was
hard to think cricket could engage in a more nakedly commercial
Yet from the moment Stanford arrived at Lord’s in June with a box
full of millions of dollars and proclaiming his Twenty20 ‘Super Series’
could crack the US television market, the Texan billionaire’s intentions
Stanford - who freely admitted he found Tests ‘boring’ - was slammed
for bouncing the wife of one of the England players on his knee during
the Antigua matches and by the end of the year he was reviewing his
In the Test arena, Australia looked what they were: a team without
two of the best bowlers cricket had known in the now retired duo of
Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.