In The Year 2028

It is 2028. English cricket is in turmoil. There’s a new report out that says after the 2029 Ashes, England will play any test cricket in May and June, including future Ashes series, and all other test series will cease. India has decided to extend the IPL into a six month competition, with 20 teams, playing each other home and away ending during the Northern Hemisphere summer, and at the risk of the test matches being played by effective 2nd XIs (or 3rd XIs in the case of the West Indies) it has been decided to cease playing test matches. The unspoken word is that key international players like Morgan Owen and Peter Kevinson are about to announce they will playing for the Ranchi Rubber Factory and Ahmedabad Reliance respectively instead of the 2029 Ashes, despite averaging well over 40 in the tests they’ve played.

Meanwhile the eight owners of the “franchises” (the teams were sold by the ECB to raise money after the disastrous 2026 summer, when England held home tests against Sri Lanka and South Africa without the visitors’ top players and crowds and TV audiences tanked) have joined together to announce, a la Premier League 1992, that they were breaking away from the ECB and forming their own English T20 Premier League company to run and administer their competition. Their first announcement after this would be to announce that two new teams would be added to the competition. Liverpool would get a new team, to create a rivalry with Manchester, and a third team would be put into London as the Olympic Stadium had been made available after West Ham had moved out to move back into a proper football ground. Given Lord’s and the Oval had sold out regularly, once the pesky Blast had been dispensed with in the 2022 Harrison Review, it made commercial sense to stick a team there, rather than the competing bids of Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin.

As a result of the breakaway, the eight current franchise owners announced that players would not be released for international or county cricket, and that given they were paying these players vast sums of money to pay T20, they would devote their careers to that format. Emboldened by the competition filling stadia throughout the land, the owners knew they held the whip hand. The ECB banned all T20 players from playing international cricket. The players shrugged. Kevinson’s contract with the Southampton Stars, the Ahmedabad Reliance and Melbourne Stars more than covered his needs without playing exhausting test cricket.

The franchise owners negotiated their own TV contract, with Sky taking 90% of the fixtures, and ITV4 having the rest. They also set to capture the internet interest by setting up their own ET20 website where cricket fans could pay £100 for the year to watch every game on streaming video. With all TVs getting their signal via the web, this was seen as more important than selling to a media company. The owners realised that not only could they contract out the technical side to one of the burgeoning private production companies, but it also got to keep all the subscription and advertising revenue for itself. Some people pointed out that MLB had been doing that for 15 or so years prior to the formation of the new T20 league in 2020, but now someone with a clue was in charge, the sport might get into the 2010s in terms of media coverage.

The sport had never had a more visible product, but traditionalists were left in the cold. Having seen the county championship abandoned in 2025 through lack of interest and quality, as many of the better players got minor IPL contracts in the expanded 20 team league, the only route into test matches was to shine in one of the T20 competitions. While Morgan Owen and Peter Kevinson had made sparkling returns, Roy Jason, a perennial scorer for the Kerala Kangaroos in the IPL, and for the South of the River Lagers in the ET20, had flopped in the last tour of South Africa. Graeme Cygnet, a promising young spinner for the Sherwood Foresters in the ET20 and the Canberra Crybabies in the 10 team Big Bash, found that bowling flat darts wasn’t a way to get top players out in tests, and we bemoaned the dearth of English spinners as Rashi Adil had retired the year before.

One problem loomed on the horizon for the ET20, and that was India’s announcement to have another league in the winter months now Test cricket had been shelved. In doing so they would insist that all players contracted to their teams would be to them only. World superstar Kooli Tendravid, a magician in all forms of the game, announced he would be the exclusive preserve of the Mumbai Billionaires, and immediately the ET20 team that had benefited from the relaxing of the Indian restrictions in 2024, the Birmingham Bears, went to the wall. Head of the ICC, Tom Harrison, said from the rented offices in the IPL HQ, that change was necessary to futureproof the game in India, and that the obsessive fanbase created in England needed to adjust to the new world. The following day Morgan Owen announced that he would be signing an all year contract for Ranchi and his putative ET20 team (he rarely played for them), the Marylebone Cricket Club Fancy Dress Party, would no longer be able to play him.

The ICC were left to fill the one event allowed per year in the timeslot assigned. The World T20 would be shoehorned in to the programme in September and October and would be played only in India. It is an annual tournament, with 6 teams representing England, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the winners of a qualification tournament between everyone else, played during the IPL and ET20. Each team played each other twice, before a Semi-Final and Final. Three time winners West Indies had dissolved as an international federation, but Barbados did squeak in as the 8th best qualifier for the straight knock-out qualifying tournament. Their top players, Brathwaite Carlos, Brathwaite Craig and bowler Tino Mediocre, were all playing in the IPL and ET20, earning £500k and more each. When Barbados demanded they play for them for a match fee of $50, they were branded mercenaries for turning it down and banned for life by Cameron David, the head of the Barbados Cricket Association.

Wisden, henceforth known as the Bible of T20 cricket, has shortened to 100 pages and is an online resource only. The real bible has become CricViz, with the stats obsessed franchises utilising the data for the annual draft for new international players. Cricket blogs either looked back in joy at the exploits of Alastair Cook, laughed at the inefficiency of Brian Lara’s backlift, or went to town on Morgan Owen’s Fielder Utilisation Coverage ratio. Paul Newman still maintained Kevin Pietersen should have been sacked, George Dobell had been made patron of the Chris Woakes Charitable Foundation and Derek Pringle and Dmitri Old had a bar fight with their zimmer frames after a chance meeting at the ET20 exhibition at the Olympic Stadium. Mike Selvey and Giles Clarke, seeing what had become of the game, had driven off like Thelma and Louise, pursued by angry obsessives, bilious inadequates and the quaint social media zealots who still used Twitter.

In a sad reflection of the state of the modern game, Alastair Cook, aged 43, scored 205 not out for Essex against Sussex in the successor to the County Championship, the Southern League. He took the attack to the assortment of 30+ and under 20s left playing second tier cricket. When asked why he was still playing, Cook said “you know why? Because I love playing cricket, and batting for more than an hour”. The audience laughed at him. “I once got a century in T20, you know” he added. “That didn’t count” said one media pundit. “It happened before the year 2020. Cricket didn’t exist before then”. That media pundit had ascended to #17 in the cricket hotlist. Below the ten franchise owners, the head of the ET20, a couple of player agents, the MCC (who owned a franchise, a ground and still had a 200000 waiting list), media personality Ben Stokes and head of the IPL, Ravi Jadeja. Simon Hughes had come a long way.

OK. It is a bit hit and miss, and I did it in one take. Some of it might be nonsense. But you’ll be fooling yourself if you don’t think some of it will come true. Like if the competition is a success it will be flogged to owners for cash. That’s how we do things here. Add your own ridiculous thoughts to the comments.