This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Upon the news that an American business consortium plans to set up a US T20 League during next summer's Ashes, England cricket chiefs have acted swiftly. Relatively swiftly. Swiftly for them.
With the US league promising "baseball on steroids" in a bid to interest American viewers in T20 cricket, England will hit back by marketing Test cricket as "baseball on barbiturates, washed down with a nice cup of milky tea".
"We're fully confident that a nation raised on the frenetic, bombastic hyperactivity of basketball, baseball, NASCAR and competitive hotdog-eating is going to embrace the prospect of a gritty Jonathan Trott rearguard like it was a delicious stuffed-crust pizza-burger dipped in buttermilk," said an English cricket spokesman.
"The previous 497 attempts to market cricket in the USA have failed dreadfully, so we are absolutely confident that this time we're all going to get very rich indeed."
Although the average man in the street in America is clamouring for cricket, US broadcasters may force some changes to the sport due to the requirements of regular advert breaks. A spokesman for broadcaster CNBS, which has expressed interest in televising Crickball (as it will be known), said:
"There's certainly appetite to show Crickball on one of our channels. We'd obviously have to remove those bits where the one guy pitches and that other guy hits, and replace them with adverts. The real money shot for us is watching that Jonathan Trott guy scratching on the ground with his stick. Racket? Pole? Whatever. That thing. You can take that to the sporting-advertainment bank, I'll tell you what."
Televised Crickball would run for five hours in prime time. Four hours 45 minutes of this would be advertorial, with perhaps 15 minutes of red-hot sporting action, where Trott marked out his guard or stared balefully into the middle distance.
"Hold onto your hats, America, we're about to go ground-scratching Crickball-crazy," added the spokesman.
Initially Crickball USA would feature six franchises, possibly expanding to ten depending on how many of the West Indies Test team could be persuaded to turn their back on the famous maroon cap in exchange for US$500 and a bunga-bunga weekend in the Florida Keys.
Senior West Indies and English cricket figures were keen to stress that due diligence would have to be done on any proposed partnership arrangement with Crickball USA.
"We in English cricket would never under any circumstance enter into a commercial agreement with any American partner without thoroughly checking that he was giving us a lot of money, no questions asked," said an English cricket spokesman. "Not after last time."
"As long as none of the bloody players get hold of any of the cash," added his West Indian counterpart. "Can't stand those guys."
As always, the fact that there are immigrant populations from South Asia and the Caribbean living in Queens and California is providing cricket bosses with the mindless blind optimism to believe they can crack the US sporting establishment.
"Apparently they have cricket games in Brooklyn on Sundays," said a senior Crickball figure. "My wife read about it in that Neverland novel. So there's no reason to suppose that we cannot make cricket the biggest spectator sport in the USA within two years.
"Look out, Super Bowl," he added. "Crickball is coming for you. And we've got tea intervals."
Alan has ghost-written a book for Premier League legend Ronnie Matthews. It is called I Kick Therefore I Am.
All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?
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