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ECB rejects offers for US$20m Twenty20 matches
England has rejected three offers worth US$20 million each for one-off games due to concerns about accepting cash windfalls, prompted by the fiasco involving Allen Stanford's short-lived series.
Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said he had been "staggered" by the offers that had been made since the collapse of the organisation's five-year US$100 million-deal with Stanford.
The Texan tycoon's assets have been frozen since February while he is under investigation for alleged fraud in the United States.
One of the offers the ECB rejected is thought to have come from the Middle East.
"We've got a very crowded calendar and we need to look at those types of proposals. There are serious issues about whether we should be playing individual games for very large sums of money," Clarke said. "There's a strong debate about it, so I don't think it's something the board would view with much favour."
The ECB signed a deal with Stanford in June last year for five winner-take-all $20 million Twenty20 games between England and a West Indies all-star XI with a prize fund of $20 million to be awarded to the winner.
England lost heavily to the local side in the only match played last November and the players were unhappy that Stanford was filmed socialising with their wives and girlfriends.
The ECB severed ties with Stanford after the fraud investigation was revealed by the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC has accused Stanford and his top executives of con-ducting an US$8 billion fraud by advising clients to buy certificates of deposit at the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.
Meanwhile, Clarke believes England can put the on-field upheavals of 2009 behind them and regain the Ashes from Australia this summer.
English cricket was in disarray at the start of the year as both captain Kevin Pietersen and head coach Peter Moores were forced to resign. Under new team director Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss, however, England enjoyed a 2-0 whitewash over the West Indies.
"Andrew Strauss has been a calm and decisive leader and has united the dressing room," Clarke said. "Andy Flower is an extremely focused and impressive man and has time to establish what he wants."
Flower's decision in 2003 to wear a black armband during a Cricket World Cup match to protest against the policies of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe helped the Zimbabwean get the England job, Clarke said.
"He is a highly principled man and this was emphasised to the board in the selection process for why he should be appointed head coach. Cricket is not like all our other sports, so having a head coach with a high moral compass is a good thing," Clarke said. "In all human endeavour if you have a respected leadership and they have gathered a team that is clear in what they want to accomplish and they have the skills you stand an extremely good chance.
"There's no doubt they will receive a great deal of support within the grounds, which is always helpful. The changes take time to work through, but what has been done has been impressive."