London, Feb 21: Umpiring legend Dickie Bird says he is pained to see how money has ruined the game, the latest example of which is the mess created by England Cricket Board's now-terminated alliance with fraud-accused business tycoon Allen Stanford.
The 75-year-old retired umpire feels the ECB did the right thing by terminating their contracts with Stanford but reckons the damage has already been done.
"It was right for the England and Wales Cricket Board to terminate all contractual links with Allen Stanford. But it is too late because the damage has already been done.
"It depresses me what has happened to the game I knew and was brought up with as a boy. Money has been the ruination of cricket," Bird wrote in British tabloid The Sun.
Bird, who officiated in three World Cups, said he could sense something was wrong when Stanford first got associated with the game.
"When Sir Allen showed off the case with the $20 million prize money for the West Indies and England winner-take-all game last year, Viv Richards and Ian Botham were beside him.
"They were all smiling, but when they pulled back the blanket to reveal the cash I thought it was horrendous.
"I thought 'there is something wrong here' and I have been proved right. I thought 'don't get involved with this man'. I wondered 'what is in it for him' and I wondered 'where is the money coming from?," Bird wrote.
Bird said Stanford's fraud act will affect the Caribbean cricket the most and it was a big setback for the West Indies Board.
"Unfortunately, the authorities saw the dollar signs and dived in head-first, without thinking. The people who are going to suffer most are the people in the West Indies, where he was bankrolling the game.
"Many Caribbean youngsters had been turned off the game because they were watching American TV and playing basketball. It was hoped that with extra investment in grass-roots cricket this could change. But those youngsters will suffer, as will the West Indies Board of Control.
"The West Indies used to be so powerful and there are signs that they are coming back. But this is a terrible setback for them," he said.