The classic Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Karnataka, which saw packed stands and soaring TV ratings, unprecedented for a domestic first-class match in India, has led to an unexpected fallout. The BCCI has banned the Ranji Trophy with immediate effect, saying that the tournament's success is a threat to the IPL.
"The IPL is, as you all know, India's leading domestic tournament. Anything that threatens the IPL's popularity, and hence commercial viability, must be banned. Ranji Trophy is the new ICL," said an agitated Lalit Modi, symbolically tearing up a copy of the final's scorecard.
"The Ranji Trophy is a rebel tournament which is not authorised by the BCCI. Hence all players and officials involved with it will be barred from all official cricket activity in all forms of the game - including book-cricket, table-cricket and Slogout," he confirmed, proving that, like most Indians, he had been paying no attention whatsoever to the country's premier domestic tournament. When someone pointed out that the Ranji Trophy was indeed a BCCI-organised tournament, he expressed surprise, saying, "Can't be. I've never heard the term 'Ranji Trophy' discussed even once at any BCCI meeting for the past several years."
Apparently, in a reaction eerily similar to the one they showed when the ICL was launched, the BCCI plans to launch its own glitzier, more glamorous version of the Ranji Trophy, which will be called the Spongy Trophy (or the Stingy Trophy, or the One-G Trophy, or the Brinji Trophy - the marketing cretins haven't quite decided yet). The tournament will feature all the right ingredients for a great cricket experience - such as paunchy businessmen, film stars who look like their noses are about to fall off any minute, clueless broadcasters, and heaps of marketing.
However, the BCCI is finding it difficult to arrange for players for the tournament, since all the available cricketers are no longer eligible to play, thanks to the Ranji ban.
"Doesn't matter, we'll just get domestic cricketers from New Zealand or South Africa. We'll simply use our muscle to get their domestic tournaments banned, and then the players will be free to play in ours," said Mr Modi candidly. "Otherwise, there's always amnesty. Heh," he joked.
"But why waste so much time and money reinventing the wheel? Why not just promote and market the Ranji Trophy itself?" asked a man known only as Sankalesh Jimmy, causing several BCCI officials to shift uncomfortably in their seats. (Or it could have been a combination of tight trousers and heavy lunches. We're not sure.)
"That's ridiculous. How could we possibly promote a tournament that has been plagued by boring cricket, bad pitches, absurd rules and complete apathy from the organisers? That would only encourage the culture of mediocrity that the promoters of the Ranji Trophy have allowed to fester," retorted Mr Modi, pulling off the admirable feat of sounding perfectly sensible yet completely absurd at the same time.
"We will never allow anything to threaten the basic foundation of Indian domestic cricket, including Indian domestic cricket itself. Even if we have to protect the country's most important domestic tournament by converting it into a multi-million dollar international extravaganza, we're willing to do so," he finally concluded, while using his BlackBerry to check whether there were new messages on his other BlackBerry.
In other news, the England cricket board has denied that Ryan Sidebottom is the unfortunate result of a failed experiment to genetically clone Art Garfunkel.
Any or all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fiction (but you knew that already, didn't you?)