Lovers of the gentleman’s game have something to look forward to. Or not, depending on how they feel about the commercialisation of cricket.
London-based freelance journalists Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber are ready with
Death of a Gentleman
, a documentary that trains its lens on the impact of Twenty20 on the sport.
The film took four years to produce and is set to be screened at the upcoming London Indian Film Festival. It looks at how Test cricket is dying a slow death at the hands of the faster paced T20 format and tries to establish how the game has become a money-minting mechanism, operated chiefly by India, England and Australia.
The 90-minute documentary features interviews with key officials, most notably the controversial former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and, the Chairman of the International Cricket Council and former president of the BCCI, N Srinivasan.
“Modi and Srinivasan are key figures,” says Collins, “Modi is certainly an ambiguous character who polarises opinions.”
Aware that at present Modi is “sort of persona non grata in India” Collins says that Modi’s creation of a profitable product like the IPL cannot be disputed.
But the film, he stresses, isn’t so much an indictment of IPL or T20 – it’s about lack of proper governance that’s allowed the game to be governed by just a few countries.
Collins says the film isn’t sweepingly critical of the shorter formats of the game. “Let me be very clear that we love the IPL as much as Test cricket and One Days. But what the IPL has done is that it’s allowed the game to be overrun by commerce by dropping huge amounts of money with little accountability,” he says.
The film features some big names. Besides Modi and Srinivasan, the controversial England and Wales Cricket Board chief Giles Clarke is in it.
So is his Australian counterpart Wally Edwards and a host of prominent figures such as Tony Greig, Harsha Bhogle, former CEO of International Cricket Council Haroon Lorgat, Ravi Shastri and others.
Many of those featured in the film have been vocal about the slide the game is witnessing. But others have been less forthcoming about the ‘Big Three’ (India, England and Australia).
“Those running cricket are very powerful and it’s difficult to get people to open up. They’re aware they may lose their jobs forever,” says Collins.
But the only good thing the game has going for it, he says, also comes from India: “The passion of Indian cricket fans is the best thing the sport has going for it... their love for the game will ensure it never really dies out.”