It was not, perhaps, the close encounter some may have hoped for, but the inaugural 'Stanford 2020 For 20' match certainly produced some dramatic cricket.
That England were given a thrashing should not be too much of a surprise – they have been a poor limited-overs side for 16 years.
The extent of this defeat was stunning, however. England were embarrassed, humiliated and humbled. They weren’t just murdered; the Superstars boiled the visitors’ bones and danced around the grave singing a comic song in a raucous voice.
A victory margin of ten wickets with 44 unused deliveries tells its own story; a life-changing sum of money – the largest purse ever paid for a team event – was the hosts’ reward.
Forget the pitch, or the the lights, or a Texan billionaire flirting with some WAGs. This result had nothing to do with luck. The Stanford side simply displayed far superior limited-overs skills. Several Englishmen, Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen in particular, attempting to improvise beyond their ability, were dismissed by fine yorkers, while a well-disguised slower ball accounted for Andrew Flintoff – head in the air and slogging like a schoolboy. All were victim of basic limited-overs disciplines.
This was the right result. While the Superstars honed their skills in a six-week training camp, the English took more than a month off and arrived little more than a week ago. They paid for their complacency.
That much-quoted Gary Player phrase – “the more I practise, the luckier I get” – proved apposite once again. But it was the right result for more reasons. Only one side has embraced this event.
While the Superstars have behaved with charm and good humour, the English have shuffled through the week, overly concerned with how they are perceived. Despite playing in paradise for a vast sum of money, several of them have done nothing but moan. The best, and more deserving, side won.
The margin of defeat could have been even larger. Had Samit Patel been caught by Dave Mohammed (as he should have been) off Kieron Pollard when when the batsman had just five, England would not have made 80.
There were just seven boundaries in the entire innings, at least three of which were unintentional edges. The Superstars managed that many within the first 28 balls of their reply. This was slaughter.
England had a couple of half-chances early in the Superstars reply. Twice the batsmen might have been run out, but the throws lacked the direction to capitalise.
As it was, Chris Gayle then ran amok. Feasting on a diet of length deliveries, he smashed five fours and five sixes in his 45-ball innings. Steve Harmison was deposited for a four and two sixes in successive deliveries and, with Andre Fletcher thrashing Stuart Broad out of the attack, England had no answers. They barely delivered a yorker in the entire innings.
“We were totally outplayed,” Pietersen admitted afterwards. “They are a much improved side and we’ve been distracted by too much. We thought too much about the distractions
“It’s a steep learning curve for us. No-one has ever played for $20 million in three hours before and we’ve probably not done it the right way.
“Next year we’ll concentrate on the cricket. We blame ourselves – we’re professionals and we should have dealt with it better.
“It’s fantastic to see the smile on their [the Superstars’] faces. It brings a smile to my face to see how happy they are. Quite a lot of them are a lot less privileged than our lads; they basically have nothing.”
Patronising though those words may be, there’s an element of truth in them. Some of the Superstars were earning less than $10,000 a year only months ago but, through the opportunity offered by Stanford’s training camps and prize money, have set themselves up for life.
Not only is it hard not to be pleased for them, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that cricket in the Caribbean, in the doldrums for two decades, is on the rise again.