Dollar signs circling English cricket
Beware of the Americanisation of sport and, more significantly, the "dollarisation" of cricket.
One suspects the bastardisation of this country's summer game that is under way in the form of the Indian Premier League is just the beginning.
The money-making tournament got under way last week when the Bangalore Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders franchises met in a glitzy, tasteless and over-the-top affair.
This week, Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire behind the blueprint for this concept of all-star Twenty20 cricket competitions - the Stanford 20/20 tournament which started two years ago in the Caribbean is strikingly similar in its make up to the IPL - has raised the stakes even higher by offering the England and Wales Cricket Board a $100million winner-takes-all offer to take on a West Indies all-star team over a five-match series.
It is silly money but as everyone knows the dollar is what drives sport these days that should come as no surprise.
The history of American sport offers plenty of evidence. It is the country where the concept of franchised sporting teams began to gather momentum in the middle of the 20th century.
Its origins - as we know them in a professional sense today - can be traced back to 1920 and the formation of the National Football League (American Football) when Jim Thorpe, the elected president of the American Professional Footballers' Association, sold the rights to the league's first teams for $100 each.
They would now fetch hundreds of millions of dollars, but that should not necessarily be seen as an indication that the business model is successful when applied to sport.
Many of the professional teams that were once single-ownership franchises in America have now reverted to a more corporate boardroom-led format, similar to those used by most professional sports clubs in this country.
The reason for that is simple: Even for many of the multi-millionaire businessman who own American sports teams to boost egos, escalating costs are making them unsustainable.
The exception to this rule is the NFL but the argument might offer a reason why an ever increasing number of autocratic American sports franchise owners - ask Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry - are looking to influence sport elsewhere in the world.
But it will be different. By their very nature, franchises are not conducive to attracting loyal support, something upon which this country prides itself.
Why would anyone follow a sport where not only do we not care who wins but we don't even know who is playing in which team, as is the case with the IPL?
The players are not innocent. Many of those who have complained of exhaustion and about the cricket calendar being too full are now only too happy to grab the money.
Stanford is unequivocal in his belief that the ECB will take on board his proposals to start up a tournament to rival the IPL. A second round of talks between the ECB and West Indies Cricket Board went ahead yesterday.
History suggests he is right.
Oil-tycoon Lamar Hunt, who might be better known to UK audiences as the founder of Major League Soccer, started up the American Football League in 1959 in order to rival the NFL.
He created the concept for very similar reasons to those that saw the birth of the Indian Cricket League, the initial but unsanctioned rebel equivalent to the IPL, and planned to fund it the same way, primarily through television and advertising revenues but also by under-mining the established order.
The AFL would frequently out-bid the NFL for the top coaches and stars out of college - notably quarterback Joe Namath, who went on to play for the New York Jets - and their strength became so prominent that the NFL had no other option but to join the AFL, split the television revenues and grant equal status.
A similar 'if you can't beat them, join them' ultimatum is what is facing cricket's authorities today.
Stanford said this week: "It is inevitable that the ECB will create a Twenty20 league, it's inevitable that it will involve the private sector and it's inevitable that the game will evolve.
"There are two types of investor. There are the philanthropists, who don't exist. The others look at the return. If I do anything outside the West Indies, I want to see what kinds of return I get."
It is a typically brash and unashamedly honest proclamation but that is exactly the attitude that has been behind American sport for the best part of a century and that is not going to change now, especially not when there are vast sums of money to be made.
It is all a far cry from cream teas at New Road.