State of cricket

'Don’t just sit on your behind': A documentary has urgent advice for cricket fans

The British film ‘Death of a Gentleman’ dives into the murky world of international cricket administration and details what needs to be done to save the game.

There’s a particularly striking moment in Death of a Gentleman, an investigative cricket documentary that will be screened across the United Kingdom from August 7. Gideon Haigh, the respected Australian writer, was asked by directors Jarrod Kimber, Sam Collins and Johnny Blank if there would ever be an independent International Cricket Council. His response sums up all that is wrong with cricket at the moment: “Before or after hell freezes over?”

Death of a Gentleman, which was the closing title at the recently concluded London India Film Festival, painstakingly examines the opaque world of cricketing administration and provides an indictment of this Machiavellian world, where every cricket administrator is looking for profit over growing the game. Not surprisingly, N Srinivasan and Lalit Modi also feature in the 96-minute film.

Death of a Gentleman took shape in 2011, when the filmmakers set out to investigate the rumoured slow death of Test cricket. “This is a format which has been around for over a hundred years, it’s already been tested,” Collins said. “But Test cricket must be encouraged. It must be allowed to flourish. All Test cricket teams must have their best players.”

An attempt to understand the current state of Test cricket became something more. The filmmakers discovered that a majority of cricket administrators only want to maximise revenue. They travelled to England, India and Australia and spoke to officials from various cricket boards. They also held conversations with individuals from the cricketing world. The film weaves in these interviews, as well as a sub-plot about Ed Cowan, an Australian batsman who made his debut for his country in 2011.

By 2014, the filmmakers found that Test cricket was being “carved up,” as Kimber put it during a question-and-answer session about the documentary before the first Ashes Test in Cardiff. “Cricket administrations were conniving with each other to ensure that Test cricket remained only in the control of two to three nations,” he said, referring to Australia, England and India.

Indian hand

Among the many interviews, the most interesting one, especially for Indians, is with N Srinivasan, the controversial chairperson of the International Cricketing Council and one of the guilty parties in the so-called carve-up. The directors also make allusions to Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s equally controversial son-in-law, and asks whether Srinivasan deserves to be ICC President.

Kimber and Collins were surprised when Srinivasan agreed to come on camera, considering his reputation for avoiding the media. However, the interview won’t be unfamiliar for Indian cricket fans. Srinivisan is his usual inscrutable self, parroting his pet themes of how he only cares for cricket and proclaiming that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Can a documentary about the commercialisation of international cricket be complete without Lalit Modi? He appears numerous times as a shadowy figure, providing plenty of quotable quotes. Despite the many allegations and controversies that surround Modi, he is portrayed in an ambiguous light.

According to Collins, this was deliberate. “You can’t ignore Modi if you’re talking about cricket administration – keep in mind, that he does have a track record of growing the game,” Collins pointed out. “We’ve deliberately been ambiguous on him and given the chance to the viewer to make their own minds up regarding Modi.”

Game changer

The documentary is the first step towards a “Clean Cricket” campaign that will be launched by the filmmakers. “We’re trying to raise public awareness through this documentary,” Collins said. “We’re trying to tell you, if you’re a cricket fan, go out and do something about the game you love. Take ownership of the game. Don’t just sit on your behind. Because if you don’t do it, the game will die and you will be as much to blame as anyone else.”

The filmmakers plan on filing petitions to the governments of various countries, imploring them to look at how cricket is being administered and bring in reform. “We need to have independent governance of cricket – we desperately need people to step in and find a way out of this current method of maximising revenue without any care for the future of the game,” Collins said.

In a poignant moment in the documentary, Kimber has an outburst, echoing the thoughts of cricket fans all over the world: “No wonder cricket’s dying...if everyone just goes, ‘well, you know, I can’t say anything on camera but I can hint at the fact that something might be wrong’...it’s like, just come out and say it! If everyone comes out and says something, maybe something could change.”

Death of a Gentleman might be an investigative film, but it also celebrates a game that has captivated millions of fans for decades. If the filmmakers’ impassioned plea to “clean cricket” is successful, fans all over the world will be thankful to them.



We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Children's Day is not for children alone

It’s also a time for adults to revisit their childhood.

Most adults look at childhood wistfully, as a time when the biggest worry was a scraped knee, every adult was a source of chocolate and every fight lasted only till the next playtime. Since time immemorial, children seem to have nailed the art of being joyful, and adults can learn a thing or two about stress-free living from them. Now it’s that time of the year again when children are celebrated for...simply being children, and let it serve as a timely reminder for adults to board that imaginary time machine and revisit their childhood. If you’re unable to unbuckle yourself from your adult seat, here is some inspiration.

Start small, by doodling at the back page of your to-do diary as a throwback to that ancient school tradition. If you’re more confident, you could even start your own comic strip featuring people in your lives. You can caricaturise them or attribute them animal personalities for the sake of humour. Stuck in a boring meeting? Draw your boss with mouse ears or your coffee with radioactive powers. Just make sure you give your colleagues aliases.

Pull a prank, those not resulting in revenue losses of course. Prank calls, creeping up behind someone…pull them out from your memory and watch as everyone has a good laugh. Dress up a little quirky for work. It’s time you tried those colourful ties, or tastefully mismatched socks. Dress as your favourite cartoon characters someday – it’s as easy as choosing a ponytail-style, drawing a scar on your forehead or converting a bath towel into a cape. Even dinner can be full of childish fun. No, you don’t have to eat spinach if you don’t like it. Use the available cutlery and bust out your favourite tunes. Spoons and forks are good enough for any beat and for the rest, count on your voice to belt out any pitch. Better yet, stream the classic cartoons of your childhood instead of binge watching drama or news; they seem even funnier as an adult. If you prefer reading before bedtime, do a reread of your favourite childhood book(s). You’ll be surprised by their timeless wisdom.

A regular day has scope for childhood indulgences in every nook and cranny. While walking down a lane, challenge your friend to a non-stop game of hopscotch till the end of the tiled footpath. If you’re of a petite frame, insist on a ride in the trolley as you about picking items in the supermarket. Challenge your fellow gym goers and trainers to a hula hoop routine, and beat ‘em to it!

Children have an incredible ability to be completely immersed in the moment during play, and acting like one benefits adults too. Just count the moments of precious laughter you will have added to your day in the process. So, take time to indulge yourself and celebrate life with child-like abandon, as the video below shows.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.