Antigua (West Indies), Nov.3 : The England cricket team's dream of becoming dollar millionaires went up in smoke in Antigua, when they were bundled out for a paltry 99 runs in a Twenty20 competition sponsored by Texan billionaire Allen Sanford.
Captain Kevin Pietersen said his team was 'distracted' while head coach Peter Moores blamed 'confusion' for their nightmare week and said they had learned an expensive lesson.
Moores said: "The lads walked out and played for England. But they got a bit distracted by other things and were trying to get their heads round exactly what the game was about.
"Was it about the money? That was the big question. In international sport, you can't afford to have any gray areas. You must be very clear what you are doing and why you are doing it. It didn't hit some of the guys until after the game. There have been a lot of things that threw us off our focus. Have we learned a lesson? I think we've probably learned a very expensive lesson," The Sun quoted him as saying further.
Pietersen said: "I'm disappointed about how we handled the week. We dived into the deep waters of uncertainty and I don't think we have done it in the right way. We've been distracted and we blame ourselves because we are professionals and should have dealt with things better.
"We should have concentrated on the cricket and played like we did against South Africa. We came unstuck. Nobody in the world has ever played for 20 million dollars in three hours. So, there was huge uncertainty. Now we know how we should have dealt with it - and we will learn for next year," he added.
By contrast, Chris Gayle's Stanford Superstars were happy to say it was all about the dosh.
The match itself was nothing short of embarrassing for England. They looked overwhelmed by the pressure of the occasion as their batsmen surrendered to a string of horror shots. England did not even survive their 20 overs.
Pietersen, a millionaire several times over, was less worried about the financial loss than some of his colleagues. In fact, he shared the delight of the Stanford Superstars - some of whom had career earnings of around only 50,000 pounds.
KP explained: "I looked at the faces of players who basically have nothing and it brought a smile to my face. It was absolutely fantastic to see a guy fall over crying at the end with a million dollars in his bank account." Gayle missed the first warm-up match because his father and brother were ill, the latter with a heart condition.
He added: "Now I want to hook up my brother to a doctor to fix his heart. This experience will help me as a person, this is the best thing in the world. "KP said we needed the money more than his players. So we're happy to take it!"
Story first published: Monday, November 3, 2008, 16:36 [IST]
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