US billionaire flirts with England cricketers’ wives, girlfriends

October 28th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 28 (IANS) The man behind a $20 million winner-takes-all tournament in Antigua has apologised to England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen after being filmed allegedly flirting with the wives and girlfriends of England players.Sir Allen Stanford apologised to Pietersen Monday for the incident that drew criticism from former England captain Mike Atherton and members of the England squad.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Stanford was seen to grab and put Emma Prior, the wife of wicketkeeper Matt Prior, on his lap before putting his arm around batsman Alastair Cook’s girlfriend Alice Hunt during England’s match against Middlesex in Antigua Sunday evening.

The paper said the incident, which seemed good-natured at the time, was captured on television by a cameraman who tracks Stanford.

Major British newspapers Tuesday splashed photographs of Emma Prior sitting on Stanford’s lap.

Ex-skipper Atherton, writing as The Times newspaper’s chief cricket correspondent, said: “Prior and some of the other England players were said to be embarrassed, uncomfortable and perhaps a little angry at what they regarded as inappropriate behaviour from Sir Allen Stanford, the Texan who is bankrolling the Standford Super Series.”

“The billionaire appeared to be enjoying himself, but the women were allegedly reluctant to refuse his advances because these matches culminate in the winner-takes-all clash on Saturday that could result in their other halves walking away with $1 million each.”

England bowler Stuart Broad said, “There were a few gobsmacked faces when it popped up on the big screen. I didn’t see it because I was bowling the over but I think Matt Prior had a bit of a shocked look on his face.”

One unnamed England player was quoted saying in the Daily Telegraph: “If that was my wife and he put her in his lap I would have wanted to punch him.”

The paper said Stanford moved quickly Monday to restore good relations with the players, apologising to Prior and Pietersen for his behaviour.

The Stanford Super Series has also drawn criticism for its lackluster performances.

“Even by the standards of this bastardised version of the game, the quality of cricket has been woeful,” wrote Atherton, adding by his reckoning at least 14 catches have been dropped in the two matches that have been played so far - and numerous more in practice sessions.

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