The changing face of cricket
Neville Cardus, probably the greatest sports writer of all time, once wrote that if everything about England was destroyed except for the laws of cricket, English society could be recreated.
Much has changed since then but one thing that has remained constant is that cricket is intrinsically English.
As George Orwell put it, our abiding picture is of an English village scene on a summer's day when, as the light fails, a ball hit for four kills a rabbit on the boundary.
Yet this weekend a meeting of the men in suits who run world cricket will take place in Dubai. Yes, Dubai, not Lord's, which emphasises that this very English game is no longer controlled by England, who may have to adjust its own cricket programme to accommodate the economic might of India.
For the first time in the history of sports, a major game is now controlled by a non-European power. How well cricket adjusts to such a development will tell us much about the game and also whether any sport, not just cricket, can accommodate such a major and sudden economic, cultural and racial shift of power.
We all know about the impact Bangalore call centres can have on our lives, but the significance of this development is equally far reaching. Until India emerged as the superpower of cricket, world sports was one area where Europe reigned supreme and the United States had very little influence.
The US may affect all our lives - in politics, economics and culture - but when it comes to world sports it is almost like a third world country. The nature and structure of world sports have remained constant for more than a century and a half.
Most of the sports the world plays were either invented or codified in these islands and much of the governing structure was devised by the French. Certainly, the bodies that govern football and the Olympics were French-created, probably reflecting an English preference for muddling through.
And the men who run these bodies have nearly all been European. In 114 years of the Olympic movement, there has been only one non-European president.
World football was governed for a long time by a Brazilian of Belgian descent and his tenure did not affect the essential power structure of the game.
And while some of the best players in the world come from South America, it is Europe that controls the economic power and dictates the shape and nature of the world game.
So much so that the Uefa Champions League is a showcase for world talent watched by millions round the globe and English Premier League matches are so popular round the world that it even thought of playing some of them overseas, a move which led some Asians and Africans to call it the second European colonisation.
Cricket is very different.
Australia have just refused to tour Pakistan, but they would never dare not to tour India because they need Indian money far too much. Indeed, the newly-created Indian Premier League (IPL), where 20-over matches are to be played under floodlight, is so lucrative that Australian cricketers have been tripping over themselves to rush to India to collect their rupees.
India produces 80% of world cricket's income, largely through television rights to cater for the insatiable appetite for the game in this land of over a billion, which has a fairly well-off middle-class of some 350 million.
The auctions for the IPL demonstrated India's economic clout. The franchises for the teams, many of them owned by Bollywood stars, went for millions and the cricketers themselves can earn as much as £500,000 or more for five weeks work, the sort of money top Premier League footballers get but until now cricketers have only dreamt of.
Most of England's top cricketers have kept away because the IPL matches clash with the English season. But the Indians not only say that English cricketers would love to play in India but they also want the English board to delay the start of their season from next year to adjust to the new league.
All this illustrates one fundamental problem for world cricket: its lack of a proper governing structure.
The structure is so weak that I am told the retiring chief executive of international cricket, the Australian Malcolm Speed, will tell the Dubai meeting that cricket has become dysfunctional. His paper will produce much chat this weekend but there is no sign that there is any appetite to marry India's cricketing billions to a viable world cricket structure.
The Indian money juggernaut will just go rolling on and the danger for cricket is that it is not only rabbits that will be killed on the boundary edge.
Much else of what cricket has stood for could get trampled, too.