HONG KONG - World cricketer of the year Shivnarine Chanderpaul said players are increasingly eyeing the huge paychecks offered by Twenty20 cricket but believes the Test format will remain the game's gold standard.
Chanderpaul defended the controversial Stanford Super Series tournament, which saw the winners take home millions of dollars, after a warning from Australian captain Ricky Ponting that the money from Twenty20 is threatening the future of Test cricket in some countries. Named the 2008 International Cricket Council Cricketer of the Year in September, the 34-year-old West Indies batsman said it was possible to make as much money in just a few weeks playing the short game as over months on the grueling international circuit.
"Twenty20 is where it's headed right now," Chanderpaul said. "Many players are gearing up to play Twenty20 because there is money."
He said the short version of the game was also attractive for players with families, who traditionally have had to put up with months on the road. Chanderpaul, who played Twenty20 for the Bangalore Royal Challengers in the lucrative Indian Premier League this year, also appeared in the Stanford Super Series in the West Indies for the victorious Stanford Superstars.
Bankrolled by Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, the tournament came in for heavy criticism, with former England and Wales Cricket Board chief Lord McLaurin calling the megabucks final Nov. 1, in which the Superstars walked off with $1 million a man and a vanquished England nothing, "obscene" and a "pantomime".
But left-hander Chanderpaul, a mainstay of the West Indies batting for over a decade, described it as a "beautiful" event. Chanderpaul, who has a Test average of just under 50 in his 112-match career, said Test cricket would remain the ultimate challenge for players.