ECB refused 3 million-dollar offers

LONDON: The chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board has revealed that it turned down three bids of up to $20m (£12.5m) to play one-off series in recent months, in the wake of the fallout from the Stanford scandal that put his position under threat.

Giles Clarke, who along with ECB chief executive David Collier rode out a wave of criticism after Sir Allen Stanford was accused by US financial regulators of a "fraud of shocking magnitude", said the episode had not put off others who had subsequently made offers of similar magnitude to the brash Texan billionaire's $100m five-year contract with the ECB.

That contract was ripped up after Stanford was accused of an $8bn banking fraud, leaving the ECB facing awkward questions about the wisdom of their partnership.

Clarke said he was "staggered" by the offers, which came from "a variety of enterprises". "We've got a very crowded calendar and we need to look at those types of proposals – there are serious issues about whether we should be playing individual games for very large sums of money," he said. "There's a strong debate about it so I don't think it's something the board would view with much favour," added Clarke, with uncharacteristic understatement.

Ahead of the busiest summer of cricket ever on these shores, taking in the ICC World Twenty20 and the Ashes, the chairman also paid tribute to recently appointed team director Andy Flower.

"He's an extremely focused and impressive man and has time to establish what he wants ... Cricket is not like all our other sports so having a head coach with a high moral compass is a good thing," he said.

Clarke also praised the England captain Andrew Strauss for uniting the dressing room and being a "calm and decisive leader". Strauss has become the latest figure in the England hierarchy to try to play down the link between recent injuries suffered by Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff and their decision to play in the Indian Premier League.

Strauss revealed Pietersen had problems with his achilles before going to the IPL – "The first time KP mentioned it was the West Indies" – but said: "I don't think the IPL affected this injury in any way, shape or form so in KP's case I don't think that's relevant." He expects him to return in 10 days. "A player can pick up injuries anywhere. It's just a shame in Fred's case that he picked it up in the IPL."

The Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark is liable to spark a backlash after it emerged he was due to sign for Gloucestershire, a move that will give him a taste of English wickets ahead of the Ashes. When he was due to sign for Kent in March, a move which fell through after he was called up to the Australian one-day squad, the county was damned by Strauss as "shortsighted". Asked whether he was expecting criticism, Clark was to the point: "I am, actually, but I couldn't care less."