Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dubious, strange and embarrassing bedfellows they keep

It's hardly a surprise that England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke is now coming under severe pressure to resign, following the revelations over the Sir Allen Stanford affair!

Billionaire Stanford has been charged with a $8bn (£5.6bn) investment fraud.

As ECB chairman, Clarke struck a deal with Stanford to play five $20m matches, with plans in place for new 20-20 tournaments in England as well.

Clarke's dubious leadership of the ECB in all this has now led to at least two county cricket clubs publicly asking him to resign.

Today, both Leicestershire and Hampshire cricket clubs are reported as saying that Clarke should go but he has been backed by Glamorgan, Durham and Middlesex.

Clarke was elected chairman of the ECB for a second term just a matter of days ago, having ran unopposed after Lord Marland withdrew in January.

But the chairmen of Leicestershire and Hampshire, who have been vocal critics of the ECB in the past, have firmly pointed the finger of blame at Clarke.

I find it amazing, that the rest of the county cricket clubs, that comprise the ECB, are not also joining in, in calling for his resignation!

I don't know about you, but right from the very start, when I first heard of Sir Allen Stanford, at the time when he first made his proposals to the ECB, I thought to myself... this guy sounds very dubious. Later on, following his antics during the Twenty 20 internationals between England and a West Indies all-star XI, which he funded with a total prize fund of £12.270m (US $20 million), my doubts about this character were heightened even further. I watched with fascination at all the bullshit and razzmatazz that surrounded Stanford, which he was largely responsible for creating.

The word 'charlatan' kept screaming out loud and clear... at least to me! Naturally, being a somewhat naive and trusting soul, I assumed that the ECB had conducted all 'due diligence' in checking this guy out... and thought, well they must know what they are doing. How naive can we be!

It's ok for me to be perhaps naive... but when the Chairman of an organisaton such as the ECB, is shown to have been so badly taken in, even if all decisions were made jointly by the board, then surely it is time for the Chairman to go... maybe the whole board too! What were they thinking about?

Dubious, strange and embarassing bedfellows

Speaking of keeping dubious, strange and embarrassing bedfellows... I just watched a press conference of Gordon Brown... our esteemed Prime Minister, being welcomed to Rome by the very dubious Signor Berlusconi... the Italian Prime Minister.

Am I being an idiot for feeling a touch of discomfort watching these two effusing about each other... and the good they are going to do when discussing the need to help poor countries during the global economic crisis? I mean... come on, this is a guy, the prime minister of a major European country, who has been indicted for paying bribes!

Perhaps this does not embarrass the Italians, but those scenes with Brown and Berlusconi... give me great discomfort!

On Tuesday, David Mills, the estranged husband of the UK's Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, was sentenced to four and a half years' jail by an Italian court after being found guilty of taking a $600,000 (£400,000) bribe as a reward for withholding court testimony to help Berlusconi!

It appears, that Berlusconi, who was indicted alongside Mills, his former legal adviser on offshore dealings, is no longer a defendant. His government passed a law last year giving the prime minister and some other top Italian officials immunity from prosecution. If that's not scandalous in itself, I really don't know what is!

While newspapers report that this is the first time in Italy that someone has been found guilty of taking a bribe without the giver of the money being identified, we all KNOW who it was!!

The fact that Berlusconi himself is still prime minister and not resigned in shame is bare faced cheek to an extreme. For our own prime minister, to be seen effusing jovially with this crook... gives me great discomfort and makes me wonder... what sort of dishonourable world are we living in... but hey, that's just me!

As we say in Llanito... valiente carra dura... the bare faced cheek of it all!