These are my columns published in The Cricket Paper in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons. You can find my book "The effing c-word" at www.thewhitewords.com, my cricket club at www.damerhamcc.com, and you can join me on twitter @siwhite0. Comments welcome.
Friday, 4 September 2015
Column 30, 2015 – Death of a Gentleman
Printed in The Cricket Paper, issue 133, Friday September 4, 2015. [Full text below]
the fast paced, cash obsessed world of modern sport, what hope is there for the
gentleman’s game? Is Test cricket’s fate already sealed? And is T20 the prime
suspect? These are the questions cricket journalists Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber
set out to answer with their documentary Death
of a Gentleman.
cinéma vérité style is reminiscent of
Nick Broomfield, or more recently the likes of Michael Moore: the journey of
the film-makers forms part of the narrative. Initially they’re motivated by the
frustration of watching something wonderful wither, but during the course of
its making, the film solidifies into something else, and the power-grab by the
‘big three’ of India, England and Australia dominates its third act.
most remarkable thing about this outrageous coup d’état was just how little
outrage it caused. Implicit in this is that those who might have been outraged
– the ‘lesser’ full nations and associates – had already been effectively
silenced by the big three.
the real story at the heart of this film, and if it doesn’t entirely succeed in
fully unearthing it, it does succeed in shining an unforgiving light on its
in most films, the most striking figures are the baddies.
BCCI president and current ICC chairman N. Srinivasan wields all the power, and
is so entrenched in the centre of his own web, that he appears impossible to untangle.
As Kimber puts it, “Any committee that could possibly get rid of him, he’s on”.
the real boo-hiss baddy of the piece is Giles Clarke. The former chairman and
current president of the ECB conducts every interaction from a position of
lofty entitlement. His bellicose brand of arrogance borders on open aggression,
and he appears genuinely affronted by the idea that anyone might question his
actions, or hold him to account. How DARE they. Haughty disdain wafts around
him like cologne. He’s a real pantomime villain, and the screening I was in
shuffled and bristled in indignation at his every utterance.
contrast, there’s a strand of the film following batsman Ed Cowan and his
family as he makes his Test debut for Australia. Cowan is engaging and
likeable, and his story is by turns heart-warming and heartbreaking.
its relation to the film’s thrust is peripheral. It represents all that’s good
and pure and worth saving in Test cricket, but this film is about the boardroom
battles rather than those on the field, and Cowan’s story, poignant though it
is, only highlights that disconnect.
that is not to detract from its worth. Death
of a Gentleman its an important film for anyone who loves cricket, as
Collins and Kimber and many of their contributors so evidently do.
it out, and decide for yourself if their campaign to #savecricket is worth
supporting, before the corruption, greed and short-termism of the
administrators at the heart of our game destroys it before they’ve even
finished counting the money.
Death of a Gentleman is showing at selected