In the past few years, we’ve had unparalleled success, with many of the highest-grossing Test cricket series in history. Series that resonated with you guys, the fans of the ICCU, in ways that we could only dream of.
Who can forget such smash hits as Pant-Man - the introduction of fan-favourite Rishabh Pant to the ICCU, using his unique banter and abilities to pull off a thrilling and comical heist on the seemingly impenetrable fortress known only as The Gabba.
(Feige stands aside, while a clip from Pant-Man plays on the big screen, in which the charmingly boyish Rishabh Pant ‘wha-hey’s and ‘whoe-ho-ho’s behind the stumps before smacking Australian bowlers all around the Gabba. The crowd in Hall H applauds enthusiastically. The clip fades to black and Feige speaks again.)
Then, of course, there was Ashes: Age of Root-Runs, which explored a world in which an attempt to develop artificial runtelligence went terrifyingly wrong. Seemingly unstoppable Root-Runs threatened to overwhelm the world of Test cricket, but fortunately, after a chilling opening scene in which a mobile phone-wielding Tim Paine crumbled into dust and disappeared, a new leader arose to help put a stop to Root-Runs… but as the post-credits clip reminded us, for how long?
(Another clip - this time of Joe Root being hit in the nuts by Mitchell Starc. The crowd laughs and cheers.)
And, of course, one of our proudest moments was Pakistan: Homecoming, where thanks to a ground-breaking collaboration deal with Sony Cricket Entertainment which holds the rights to produce and distribute Pakistan cricket, we were finally able to return your friendly neighbourhood Pakistan to where it belongs - playing Test series in the ICCU.
(A clip of Shaheen Shah Afridi swinging in from the skyline of Lahore. He lands in a heroic pose which he holds for a beat, before commencing his run-up. The crowd loses their entire shit as Feige continues talking.)
That unbroken string of hit Test series has helped lay the groundwork for what promises to be the biggest and most exciting phase of the ICCU yet - Phase 5.
Leading off Phase 5 will be Dr Labuschagne in the Marnus-verse of Madness, a storyline drawing on some of the great ICC cricket comics of the 1970s. Run-Scorer Supreme, the mysterious but toastie-loving Dr Labuschagne, will team up once again with The Ancient One (Steve Smith) to explore a variety of improbable alternate cricketing universes - much like their own, but with weird and unfathomable differences - including Sri Lanka, India and Cairns. And who knows… maybe there will be a special guest star or two along the way…
(murmurs among the crowd)
Can I hear you say ‘Rabada Forever!’
(Kagiso Rabada enters the stage and waves to the crowd as they cheer back at him ‘Rabada Forever!’)
Ha ha ha! That’s great. I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve got in store there.
The next Test series on our docket is a passion project of mine, one I’ve dreamt of working on ever since I began working here to flesh out the ICCU: Stokes: Love and Thunder
(The crowd applauds)
Following the events of Ashes: Age of Root-Runs, Joe Root will relinquish his title as The God of England Cricket.
(Horrified murmurs of ‘oh no’ and ‘say it ain’t so, Joe’ make their way through the crowd.)
Stepping into the role will be a new hero… but an old friend.
(Ben Stokes emerges live on the stage to rapturous applause. He throws a mock-punch at Feige, who mock-recoils in mock-horror.)
But is Stokes sufficiently pure of heart to wield the power entrusted in him by the ECB? Can he instil in his shattered team the love and thunder needed to rebond and rebuild?
(Feige pauses, while Stokes mock-shrugs.)
Well, can he?
(The crowd roars back an emphatic ‘yes’. Stokes gives them a thumbs up and exits the stage.)
Ha ha ha! We shall see. There may be a dark turn to come in this tale, as this Test series opens up an entire new area of the ICCU for our creative teams to explore.
Stuart Broad will reprise his fan-favourite role of Stuart Broad and I’m pleased to reveal that Sir Brendon McCullum has signed a three-series deal to play a key role in the story we plan to tell. A story that will lead into perhaps the ultimate Ashes…
(The crowd draws silent in expectation before Feige smiles and catches himself.)
But no, that would be telling…
(The crowd laughs disappointedly at the lack of spoilers.)
There are other Test series to come as well. An as-yet-untitled Captain Marvellous sequel with Pat Cummins reprising his role as the most powerful hero in the ICCU and, of course, we still haven’t forgotten about this…
(The stage suddenly goes dark and the logo of the Fabtastic Four, starring Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson appears. The crowd start punching one another in frenzied excitement before the lights come back on and Feige continues talking.)
But Phase 5 will take place not just on the big screen. We’ll also be streaming directly into your homes via a number of different television series as well.
(The crowd whoops and starts setting fire to the chairs that have broken during previous bouts of cheering.)
Series such as WarnerVision, which will explore the limits of both the power and depravity of David Warner in a unique and fun way.
(The teaser clip shows Warner embroiled in pitch-perfect homages to some of his favourite cartoons - cutting seamlessly from a Road Runner parody to a Ren and Stimpy knock-off to a SpongeBob Squarepants riff. The crowd murmurs, confused.)
Some of you may be wondering which of the many eras of cartoons we’ll be homaging. And the answer is… all of them.
(Cheering. Several members of the crowd form an impromptu human pyramid and tear supporting beams from the ceiling in excitement. The roof collapses on them, killing dozens. Feige continues.)
And I bet you’ve been wondering what’s been happening to India’s favourite trickster god since we last saw him?
Well, you’ll find out in Kohli, an exploration of time, space, runs, friendship, alternate timelines and being caught behind to one you could have easily left just when it looks as if you’ve finally got some rhythm going in your innings.
It’s a series that asks the question: What if Kohli’s deadliest foe was… himself?
(The crowd cheers once more! They stop trying to recover the bodies buried under the collapsed roof and instead start throwing bricks at one another in celebration. Feige smiles and leans into the microphone where he whispers conspiratorially.)
I can’t wait for you to see the fifth episode of Kohli. It’ll upend your entire understanding of the ICCU.
(The crowd roar their approval as the brick-throwing intensifies.)
Thank you again for your support of the ICCU. It’s only through your devotion to these Test series we create that we get to continue building a bigger and better world of cricket for you all to enjoy.
(The crowd cheers. The floor collapses underneath them and they plummet into the sewers below, still cheering. Feige exits, stage left.)