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BREAKING… England were last night celebrating victory in the 2013 Ashes in their Nagpur hotel, after a panel of international historians declared that their triumph over Australia next summer is now an immutable certainty.
The UN Sporting Precedent Committee in New York has ruled that there are sufficient parallels between England's 1984-85 series win in India, which presaged a 3-1 Ashes win for David Gower's men in the ensuing summer, and this current tour, that "they might as well start the post-mortems in Melbourne now".
Professor BS Kalhuke, the committee's chair, explained: "England crashed to a heavy defeat in the first Test after being scuttled by Sivaramakrishnan, a spinner who became progressively less effective the longer the series went on. They bounced back with a thumping second-Test victory after dismissing the home team for just over 300, scoring just over 400 themselves, before chasing down a small target with loads of wickets in hand."
High-fiving himself enthusiastically, Kalhuke, emeritus professor of sporting coincidence at the Nantucket Institute of Unarguable Facts, continued: "England then won the penultimate Test of the series to go 2-1 up, after again dismissing the Indians relatively cheaply, then posting a big lead with all of their top four passing 50, exactly as they have just done at Eden Gardens. They won that penultimate Test 28 years ago by knocking off a target of less than 50. So all things considered, you can start booking the open-topped buses for 26th August, the day after England clinch the urn at The Oval once more with a left-handed batsman as captain."
Pressed by journalists about aspects of the 1984-85 series that do not provide exact parallels to the 2012-13 version, and the potential for all these parallels to be rendered invalid by the final Test not ending in a draw, Prof Kalhuke pointed out that the last match of the mid-eighties rubber was played in a city ending in the letters p-u-r ‒ Kanpur then, Nagpur this time. "If that game is not a draw, then I will have a tattoo on my face of the words 'Ravi Shastri was the most exciting cricketer of all time.'"
He then stuck his fingers in his ears and pretended he was deaf to avoid answering further queries, before running away at high speed, shouting something about Alastair Cook being a left-handed opener making big scores in India, making him the new Graeme Fowler. "Cook will never play for England again after this series, mark my words," screamed Kalhuke as he bundled himself into the boot of his car.
England captain Alastair Cook was unavailable for comment, but, had he been available for comment, and commented, he would have commented: "Yes, yes, yes. A third successive Ashes win for the first time since the 1970s - that's an awesome achievement. I'm not fussed about being the new Graeme Fowler. This is about the team, not me."
Cook continued: "Our whole strategy on this tour of India was geared towards mirroring the 1984-85 series here as closely as possible, so we are delighted with how things have gone. Leaving Monty out of the first Test in Ahmedabad was a masterstroke, as we knew the Indians were very vulnerable with bat, ball and in the field after their results and performances last year, so had to make sure we got the result we needed to set up the entire pattern of the series. It worked a treat."
Australian skipper Michael Clarke tearfully acknowledged that England would be the better side in next summer's showdown. "Ah, look," he wept to a press conference in Sydney, Baggygreenland, "I will not discuss my position as Australian captain now, eight months before we lose the series. There's no disgrace in losing to a team that will have just secured a come-from-behind 2-1 win in India, particularly when that defeat is made inevitable by a few historical coincidences. We'll head to England having just lost a home series to the world's top-ranked team, just as we did in 1985, so frankly we might as well just accept what's coming to us. Well played, England. Enjoy your moment. But remember, you're going to get whitewashed in West Indies early next year and you will not win a single Ashes series from 2017 to 2033."
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writerFeeds: Andy Zaltzman
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Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.