You can keep your Bolts and your Phelpseses. There’s only one true candidate for Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, and his name is Sir Allen Stanford. That might not seem a likely suggestion, or even a sensible one, but consider this: why wouldn’t you select this brash Texan billionaire with few real connections to UK and little discernible sporting talent as the latest OSPOTY? The answer may surprise you.
The pros and cons are many. I will deal with them in order of no order whatsoever.
He hasn’t just brought Twenty20 cricket to the Caribbean. His stated aim - to rebuild the sport’s infrastructure in the region – is surely to be commended. For the good of the game and its continued diversity, to allow Caribbean cricket to founder is unthinkable. Conversely, what has Giles Clarke brought to the English game other than the Stanford Twenty20 for 20?
Some say he’s not really “Sir” Allen Stanford at all, and they’re quite right. His real name is Sirallen Stanford, and he is a pioneer in the field of ridiculous composite names, inspiring the likes of 4Real, D’Brickashaw and theguardian.
Then there’s “breaking America” – an idea that seems ridiculous to some. It shouldn’t. Of course cricket will never come close to threatening the major US sports, but that there are a large number of healthy minor sports in a country of over 300 million is no surprise. And with the populations of Americans of , for example, Caribbean and South Asian (particularly Indian) descent large and growing, and the possibilities of niche marketing in the age of the internet and cable/satellite/digital TV, why might cricket not be run as a small, but profitable, business, just as other minor US sports – both professional and amateur - are, in what we might call the Sports Economics version of The Long Tail (stop giggling at the back)?
We might even get a US team out of it one day – someone for England to beat, at least for a while. And who cares if their side wouldn’t showcase the best sportsmen that America has to offer? After all, English cricket lost the man his coach called “the greatest schoolboy cricketer he’d ever known” to football.
Kick-starting the renaissance of West Indian cricket isn’t Stanford’s only gift to the global game - he has also revealed to future opponents England’s fatal flaw. To guarantee success, simply raise the prize money to uncountable levels (n.b. India and Australia – you chaps needn’t bother).
This man - with a moustache bested in modern times only by my Grandma’s – may not be an actual sportsman, but with assets of $2.2 billion, and pretty ladies bouncing on his knee, he certainly is a player, and my Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.