Oz in line for $20 million offer from Texan billionaire

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Sydney, Feb 25 (UNI) After being snubbed by the ICC which expressed concern about his proposal of a quadrangular Twenty20 tournament, Texan billionaire Allen Stanford intends to offer Australian players 20 million dolars for four hours' work in the Caribbean next year.

Stanford has come up with a new concept that pitches the Australians against an all-star team from around the West Indies for a winner-takes-all prize of 20 million dollars.

However, Australian players might not get time for Stanford's tournament because of a tight international schedule and now with the introduction of the IPL, they are not expected to play in the tournament.

But Stanford sees an opportunity for a flying visit around the time of the Ashes tour next June.

''If enough players in Australia or England or India know they have a chance to come down here to the Caribbean and walk away, each one of them, with millions of dollars in their pocket, I think it will probably happen,'' Stanford was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

''All this junk I had to go through in the beginning well, the project is too big now. So I think next year it is absolutely certain to happen,'' he added.

He is yet to hold formal talks with the boards of Australia or England about either country's availability.

Earlier, India refused a similar invitation after winning the Twenty20 world championship in September and has since trumped Stanford by launching the fully franchised IPL.

''I invited the winner (of the T20 world championship) to come over here and play first for 5 million dollars and then I said, 'I'll give you 10 million dollars'. The [Indian board] said, 'No, we don't want to do that, because it would be endorsing a privately funded program', and look what they've done.'' But Stanford is determined to ensure that the Stanford 2020 takes off. According to him, cricketers will only represent their own islands in the domestic competition involving 21 Caribbean nations.

''What I eventually want to have is what I call 'the OK Corral'.

Anytime, any place, you come to our field and play one game, Twenty20, for 20 million dollars. The best of our players against your team.'' UNI XC RAR AB SSC1135

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