It's not about England and Australia any more, hasn't been for long - it's India first, and then Australia and t-h-e-n England. Yet, in spite of Test cricket's long pending demise, the Ashes continues to thrive, seen by some as almost rivalling the popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Yet, just as there are very few, if any Englishmen in the IPL, the Ashes continue to ignore Indians. And just when the mighty N Srinivasan is set on world domination it now appears he's struggling for a chair to park his behind in the Cricket Centre, Mumbai. But while the good folk of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) mend fences (so much fence-sitting these days), the people of India must wake up, and ask for what is rightly theirs, a piece of the pie that is the Ashes.
While it is widely believed that Sachin Tendulkar's dream was to win the World Cup, few know that he lives with the deep regret of not scoring a century at Lord's, and to a lesser extent, never taking part in an Ashes Test match. "What use is it playing 200 Tests when you cannot be part of a great rivalry", he was once overheard saying to one of his many minions. While some interpreted this as the paucity of India-Pakistan encounters, noted cricket historian, Albe Plemisphere observed that the little master often spent his summers in England, not so much for Wimbledon but for the Ashes. "Even at Wimbledon, he's always streaming the Ashes on his mobile phone. And how can he not be at the tennis? His good friend, Federer won't have it any other way".
If the Indians can accommodate four foreigners in the IPL, why can't England and Australia extend the same favour to India? Just imagine how it will help South Asian youth corrupted by football hooliganism to reconnect with their desi heroes in the summer. And for those who think cricket is too soft, what better than an earful from Virat Kohli to his detractors Down Under?
Kohli, in fact, has already proven that he is ready for split-captaincy and could quite easily take over as England's Test captain. He rarely moves without his trusted general, Ravi Shastri, and considering that the latter is already on board as a Sky Sports analyst, the duo should be signed on by a county to fast-track the tedious requirements to play for Old Blighty.
And what about Kohli's lieutenants, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane? Rohit should be considered just so that he may not be considered after a routine overseas underachievement, and to give the Poms an illusion of equality in selection. Also, seeing that there's no Dhoni to unpick Rahane, and that these are not "slow wickets", the quiet one should play, right?
But enough of selection; what about the sponsors, why is it the Investec Ashes? Does anyone in India know of Investec? This is a clear case of alienation - tap into Micromax or Maruti, and if they're hell-bent on specialist banking and asset management groups, why not ICICI or HDFC?
Of course, the Ashes must be played in England or Australia; this much tradition demands. But like all one day internationals (ODIs) played by India in England, a larger desi presence at the grounds will only add to the festivities - it can be argued that the Indians hardly turned up for the England-India Test series, but that was largely owing to the visitors' poor performance. With four Indians in either team, no matter who wins, an Indian wins! (with the odds forever in their favour.) Add to that subsidised tickets (student rates for South Asians), which should do the trick.
There are strong English traditions on display, and while desis can down their sparkly and ale like anybody else, halves and quarters (Old Monk etc) and super strong beer (Haywards 5000) too should be allowed to mingle with the other vile spirits. The drinks trolley should embrace truck art and refreshments should be served in stainless steel lassi glasses. Who knows, maybe even a charpai in the centre with a hookah for good measure? But these are mere details; the crux of the matter is, to save Test cricket, India will have to enslave the Ashes.
Just a matter of time, when it's down to seven Indians and four Englishmen/Australians. As for the Pakistanis, no doubt they'll want to play in the Ashes, but do you think we can allow that?
(Is this satire? Or will this be a reality? However plausible, it does appear for now, this is fiction at play.)