Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fire in Babylon

More documentary than film, this story of the West Indies cricket team during the 1970’s and 80’s did however get a limited UK release, and is a must see for any real fan of the game of cricket.
Through interviews with the players of the time, including Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Clive Lloyd, and some colourful characters from the Caribbean islands, it tells how the West Indies went from a divided group of Calypso cricketers to the feared attack that went fifteen years without losing a test series.  It intersperses this with footage from games, along with musical interludes.
This highly enjoyable piece of filmmaking really highlighted for me the difficulties that black cricketers were still undergoing only thirty or so years ago.  In some ways you can look at it and be pleased that there is far less obvious racism, although in the light of recent incidents within football, there is still a long way to go.
In cricket terms it was sad to see that some players, officials and watchers at the time couldn’t see beyond the colour of their skin, and when they started to become dominant, to say that it was only due to not playing the game properly.  They seemed to completely overlook the fact that the winning West Indian team had been inspired by the aggression of the Australian fast bowlers.  But then they of course were white, which makes it OK.
It also gives another slant on the idea that sport and politics should not mix.  However this is only really possible in a perfect world and the truth is that sport is just as intertwined with politics as any other aspect of our lives.  For sportsmen to assume that theirs is an isolated little world is very naive, and as difficult as it is, they should be taking a tougher stand with things that they don’t agree with, even if it means that they cannot play their sport.
But it is also marvellous to see the likes of Holding and Garner, Roberts and Marshall in their prime, peppering batsmen, destroying stumps and causing the mayhem that they did.  One of the great aspects of test cricket is to see how a batsman faces up to a genuine fast bowler.  It is tense and exciting and can really get a crowd going.
I would definitely recommend this to someone who likes their cricket, but also to those who are interested in the social aspects of sport.  Eight out of ten.

1 comment:

  1. Another fan I see .. watched the premiere via live link in a special viewing last year. Had I known better instead of going to Vue Valley Park Croydon i'dve gone 2 miles in opposite direction to Brixton Playhouse where actual premiere was being held and seen Sir David Frost, Greenidge, Croft and Thommo in person!