Review: Death of a Gentleman
What would you do if something you loved seemed to be withering away before your very eyes? Would you try and do something about it? Or just tut, remember the good times and bid a sorrowful farewell?
When two journalists, Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber, saw Test crickets place at top of the sport crumbling, they set off on a journey to try and determine whether the grand old lady really was suffering a slow death, or if the formats enduring nature would hold true.
Unbeknownst to Collins and Kimber when they set out, this journey would take them along a much more unsavoury path than they had ever anticipated. Through ivory towers and rotting foundations, Death of a Gentleman exposes serious question marks over the games direction, and who is driving it.
Beginning in 2011, Collins and Kimber meet up with the affable Ed Cowan, on the verge of making his Test debut for Australia. Against India. At the Melbourne Cricket Ground. On Boxing Day.
Bar perhaps the Ashes, games don’t come much bigger and Cowan’s enthusiasm is infectious. At 29 he still carries a verve usually only seen in the young. Receiving his own baggy green the realisation of a dream.
Not as talented as some of his team mates, Cowan is a ‘team first’ kind of guy and proof that, with the right attitude, ‘anyone’ can make it. Cowan is almost the embodiment of those who love Test cricket.
And while things go well for Cowan – who scored 68 in Australia’s first innings at the MCG – the series does not go well for India, losing all four games by a considerable margin.
It re-opens questions about the BCCI’s commitment to Test cricket, the rise of the IPL, the massive financial clout India holds and their resulting responsibilities both within and to the game.
And this is where the films bite comes from.
It quickly becomes apparent three nations are driving the bus – India, England and Australia – with the remaining 102 cricket playing nations expected to tow an increasingly unbalanced line.
As a result, Narayanaswami Srinivasan, former President of the BCCI and current chairman of the ICC, and ECB President Giles Clarke come under increasing scrutiny. Clarke’s somewhat myopic view on Olympic participation and instant dismissal of any question involving Allen Stanford prove particular low points for the English cricket supremo, while Srinivasan’s spiders-web like of connections throughout the sport and high profile run ins with Lalit Modi and Haroon Logat raise serious questions about his suitability as the head of world cricket.
Australia’s Wally Edwards is conspicuous by his absence, but may also have been spared some of the wrath, as nations such as South Africa and Sri Lanka increasingly find themselves at the mercy of others.
It is fair to say mismanagement by some boards has not helped, but visits to small cricketing nations such as China point to wider interest in the game globally. But again this comes back to the increasingly impenetrable world of the ICC.
In Giles Clarke’s defence, he is right when he suggests that concerns over Test cricket’s future have been raised since the 1900s; but Death of a Gentleman moves beyond the future of one format. It questions the direction of the entire sport.
What is cricket’s purpose? What is it’s direction? And what motivates those in power?
That 52% of the games wealth is now dominated by three nations is shocking; how we got there perhaps even more so.
To call Death of a Gentleman a ‘must see’ may be something of a cliché at this point, so highly touted has the documentary been in cricket circles. But it’s true. It is one of those rare pieces all fans would do well to see.
You may not agree with all the points, you may not wish to put stock in what Lalit Modi says or you may believe Giles Clarke is right to put English interests first. But this is a documentary that asks important questions of those running the sport. Those presiding over issues that will affect the international and domestic game. Questions that should be asked, regardless of which angle you approach the subject from.
Revenues have never been higher thank to lucrative TV deals, ostentatious twenty20 leagues and increased sponsorship.
It is important to gain some kind of handle on those running the sport, to understand where cricket in the 21st century is heading. To want them to be held accountable for their actions.
But as Death of a Gentleman shows, there is a painful lack of transparency in world cricket right now.
You can also follow the film’s latest developments via Twitter
Posted on September 8, 2015, in International Cricket, Reviews, TV & Film and tagged BCCI, Death of a Gentleman, ECB, Ed Cowan, Film, Giles Clarke, ICC, International Cricket, Jarrod Kimber, N Srinivasan, Reviews, Sam Collins. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.