More England! More Australia! More Ashes!
The clash between Australia and England last week (the cricketing one at Edgbaston, not the David Warner-Joe Root walkabout) was the first of 26 matches between the two sides over the next seven months. We can now reveal that the ECB and Cricket Australia are concerned they are not maximising the commercial opportunities provided by this storied rivalry and are working together to fit more contests into the schedule. Some of the highlights of Operation Golden Goose are thought to include:
A quadrangular ODI tournament following the Champions Trophy but before the Ashes on July 10. To be played at Cardiff (weather permitting) every day from Monday, June 24 to Tuesday, July 9, between England, Australia, England-Australia and Australia-England, the last two sides being composite teams made up of the best second-tier players available to each nation, giving fans the chance to see more of Jade Dernbach and various minor Mitchells.
Tickets still available.
This is to be followed by Rest Afternoon before the Ashes on July 10. Charity match to be arranged (beneficiary: the ECB).
Gold Tier Donor opportunities still available.
While interest in the Ashes is obviously high, there is a feeling that more could be done. It is understood that Lord's "could have been sold out two or three times over for the Ashes Test". The obvious solution is for two more Ashes Tests to be played at Lord's in the subsequent fortnight, allowing fans who didn't get into the first one a chance to experience the Ashes experience first hand, and buy one of Mr Jamie Oliver's toothsome and competitively priced £20 steak sandwiches.
Steak sandwiches still available.
Other formats should not be neglected. Plans are afoot for a Twenty20Twenty, with the sides playing each other 20 times in the 20 days after the ODI series ends in September, with the winner then winning the right to host an October 30Twenty30, a slightly expanded format where a game is played each day of the calendar month, but across 30 overs a side to maximise the opportunities to buy one of Mr Oliver's toothsome and still competitively priced £30 steak sandwiches (featuring steak, sandwiches and England v Australia relish levy).
Luncheon loans still available.
From the commercial sides of the ECB and CA businesses (i.e. the important sides) there is significant appetite to take the best aspects of the IPL (money, free Pepsi) and combine them with the England v Australia rivalry to create the Indian Premier Ashes League. A series of franchises to be set up which will bid for players, and the results of matches, leading to an expanded 1444-game tournament to run from October through 2019.
Franchises and lawsuits still available.
Diversify the rivalry into other entertainment formats. Simon Cowell is being courted to see if he will put on an England And Australia's Got Ashes (working title) talent contest. MasterAshes is set to be the TV cooking hit of the summer, with contestants from both sides attempting to cook a soufflé in a torrential Durham downpour. There is strong interest in pro celebrity Ashes boxing featuring David Warner, Andrew Flintoff, and the late Madge Bishop, available on Sky Sports Pay Per View for just £19999.99.
Andrew Flintoff still available.
Talking of Ashes cash-ins: see WG Grace Ate My Pedalo, here