by Tony Cozier
BENNETT KING is elated over Allen Stanford's US$28 million investment in West Indies cricket.
"Certainly, the Stanford proposals and some of the things he's got in place actually aid our (team) development as well as aid development around West Indies cricket in general because of the resources they're putting into the (cricket) communities," the head coach said here yesterday.
Stanford, the Antigua-based Texan financial services magnate, is pumping money into 19 territories to upgrade facilities, training and coaching in preparation for his West Indies' Twenty20 Tournament in Antigua in July.
"We've been working with Stanford behind the scenes in terms of what we'd like to see and what they would like to do," King said. "A lot of things marry quite nicely but we don't want to have duplication of things.
"We want to make sure that what happens within the cricket communities across the Caribbean are standardised across the board, so that the international players are doing the same as the domestic players and those people that are going to be accessing the Stanford project."
King indicated that Stanford's venture would help the West Indies better prepare players for next year's ICC World Cup in the Caribbean.
His own plans are to organise a camp for two to three months for a chosen group of players since there were some "significant breaks" in the international schedule.
"We've seen other professional sports around the world do a similar project," he said. "We'd like to move that forward."
He envisaged warm-up matches against ICC associate teams - the likes of Canada, Bermuda, Holland and Scotland - taking place in conjunction with the camp "if we can manage that".
"We're the least resourced of all the countries that I've ever been to with cricket and that would include some of the associate countries in terms of the facilities they provide," he said.
"We've just got to make sure that we do the best we can with what we've got," he added. "We continue to try to find sponsors and people who would work hard with us in trying to get the best deal or the best prices so we can marry in with what the board (West Indies Cricket Board) is trying to do as well."
King revealed that the proposals he and team manager Tony Howard have put forward to the WICB for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence, a better structured domestic competition, increased resources and more standardisation across the region were "starting to take shape".
"They still haven't been put in place," he added. "We verbalise most things which is why I don't like telling what my plans are. I like to have them in place before I say to the media what we've got going so we're not left with ashen faces."
He acknowledged that he and his team have "a number of hurdles to cross", among them notification from the WICB that it could not afford any more pre-series camps.
It was the reason why Sir Garry Sobers, who was made technical consultant to the team at the same time as King was appointed, was not as involved as he might have been.
"We certainly miss his input but that's just how it is at the moment," King said.
"We've got to find new ways and means to take things forward and to be as creative as we can be," he added.