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Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes

What price the Ashes?

The decision to give the crown jewel of English cricket to the BBC has not gone down well in cricket administration circles

Alan Tyers

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The excitement gets to Giles Clarke at the announcement of the new Sky TV deal, The Oval, August 5, 2008
Giles Clarke is singularly unimpressed by the prospect of his job being on the line due to budget cuts © Getty Images
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The mood was sombre as ECB Head of Revenue Protection and Paperclips, Gareth Nargh, called the meeting to order.

"Colleagues," said Nargh. "The ridiculous decision to hand the Ashes to the BBC is the most staggering crisis facing English cricket since we discovered that disgraced American entrepreneur P Roscoe Taxevader III Junior was not actually a kindly cricket-loving Texan who wanted to make us all rich, but in fact a ruthless confidence trickster.

"And just as we could not possibly have identified as suspicious Mr Taxevader's promises to have English county cricket on pay-per-view in every single home in America and China by 2010, in exchange for naming a few grounds after him and getting him a couple of clean passports, so we once again find ourselves the victims of circumstance.

"The BBC ruling is a tragedy for our game. Thousands of grassroots cricket administrators may suffer as a result of this small drop in funding."

A murmur went around the room. County Cricket Senior Liaison Officer Giles Mattingwicket-Blazer rose unsteadily to his feet.

"Mr Chairman," said Mattingwicket-Blazer. "County cricket faces a crisis as a result of this decision. How will we attract people to the game now? How are the middle managers, pen pushers, golf-club bores, Freemasons and elderly employables of tomorrow ever going to become county committee members and chairmen without the very generous funding we currently receive from His Highness Mr Murdoch?"

"Won't someone think of the children?" sobbed Mattingwicket-Blazer into his post-lunch loosener. "And the renovations I've got planned for the committee room at my county."

The distraught county bigwig was lead to a chair and given a Bath Oliver and a big pile of someone else's money to calm him down.

"Aside from the impact on county committee rooms nationwide, we are extremely concerned about the impact on grassroots schemes run by the ECB," continued Nargh.

"Research has shown that this funding cut could mean the loss of over 23,000 jobs at the ECB, including media-relations officers, advertising gurus, logo redesigners, marketing co-ordinators, third-party liaison focus leaders, and possibly even Giles Clarke."

"On the upside, the BBC obviously won't want to show hours and hours of boring Test cricket on the telly when they could be showing Strictly Come Masterchef, James May's Adult Baby Stories and Celebrity Antiques Roadshow On Ice," he said.

"We have it on good authority that they will only show 45 minutes of cricket at a time, which is perfect for the new five overs-a-side format we are keen to develop."

A cheer went up. Mattingwicket-Blazer spoke for the room:

"I, for one, welcome our new Left-leaning overlords from White City," he said, and the committee retired to the Grassroots Bar.

RSS FeedAlan Tyers is a freelance journalist based in London
Any and all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fiction (but you knew that already, didn't you?)

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Alan Tyers
Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.

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Alan TyersClose
Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.
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