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‘Death of A Gentleman’ film – ‘India bashing’ or serious probe?

‘Death of A Gentleman’ film – ‘India bashing’ or serious probe?

August 13 2015

A new film about cricket asks some vital questions about a sport that is fast becoming global and one of the two filmmakers answers our questions about the film he has made – which, some will feel, points an unfair finger at India and its administrators…

A DOCUMENTARY feature, “Death of Gentleman“, released last Friday (August 7) and made by cricket journalists Brit Sam Collins and Australian Jarrod Kimber argues that the future of the game is in dire peril.
That contention is not based on the game’s diving popularity. No far from it – it continues to grow apace with China being just one of the new countries where it is being played. And anyone who followed the recent Ashes Series between England and Australia will have seen that the game in England is in rude health.
Collins and Kimber identify three administrators N. Srinivasan in India, Giles Clarke, in England and Wally Edwards in Australia, as the main culprits responsible, they feel, for the “Death of A Gentleman” (‘DOAG‘). They claim Test cricket is being sidelined to favour more lucrative formats of the game, such as 20/20 and one-day internationals (ODIs). Test cricket, the ultimate sporting contest between nations played over five days, will be allowed to wither, they suggest.
Clocking up the air miles, their investigation into this state of affairs sees them confront Srinivasan and Clarke – sometimes with highly amusing results; and delves touchingly on Test cricket’s enduring appeal and immense charms.
Their film, highly watchable even for those not that interested in cricket, presents a startling picture of administrators seemingly running the game for profit and little else (such as widening cricket’s appeal, making 20/20 an Olympic sport or sharing the proceeds equitably among the established and new cricket countries, large and small).
While some will argue that ‘DOAG‘ is too one-sided and very selective in its approach and criticism, most would see merit in the exercise of asking questions and seeking answers and doing so in a way that is both entertaining and illuminating.
We caught up with cricket lover and filmmaker Jarrod Kimber to put what we felt were some big questions arising from ‘DOAG‘.

ACV
Filmmakers and cricket lovers Sam Collins (l) and Jarrod Kimber

www.asianculturevulture.com (ACV): Much of the film is focused around the role of India and the current International Cricket Council (ICC) head N. Srinivasan, how do you counter the claim that the film is anti-Indian?

Jarrod Kimber (JK): The Supreme Court of India forced N Srinivasan out of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The same court has just suspended the franchise he owned out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after the man he chose to run his franchise was involved in a match fixing. Are they ‘anti-Indian’? Mr Srinivasan is the most powerful man there has ever been in cricket.
For us not to base a film on how poorly cricket is run would make the film utterly pointless. Mr Srinivasan doesn’t not represent India as a nation; he was not voted in by the billion cricket fans, he merely politicked his way up a broken system and ran the game as he saw fit.
But what is most interesting, is that when this film is shown to someone English, they mention Giles Clarke’s (chair of the England & Wales Cricket Board) behaviour, when it is an Australian, it’s that Wally Edwards is not in it (he declined to be filmed). These are three men, of three different races, who all sold out the game they loved for personal agendas. There are three nations in the big three, and any cricket fan who loves the game from these three nations should be embarrassed and disgusted with their boards.
And, look at how cricket is right now. The man running the global game has been forced out of his own board by the supreme court of his nation, but still gets to run the entire sport. And the organisation that is running game is shrinking the World Cup so that teams like Afghanistan (made up of many refugees who are some of the only sporting heroes in their nation) can’t play in cricket’s most important tournament. This isn’t about nationality or ethnicity.

ACV
N Srinivasan, current ICC chairman and formerly head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)

(ACV): You highlight some serious governance issues and the structure of the current ICC appears unsuitable and unwieldly, but let’s face it, as the expression goes, Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas and aren’t these problems too large and entrenched for just cricket fans to tackle?

(JK): They want us to think the problem is too large to address, that is how power works. Look at Giles Clarke in the film, encouraging us to write about the game, and trust them on administration. Information, education and passion can change anything.
Will it be hard, yes. Are there any easy answers, no. But is that a reason to stop, never.
A billion people in the world say they love this game. There are three people running the game. We know who they are. We know what they have done wrong. And we know that they are not immune to the court of public opinion, that one day, they might even have to argue to higher powers in their own governments to justify what they have done here.
Maybe this is just the first pebble, maybe it will take 20 years to #changecricket, but does that mean we shouldn’t start now. This is our game; we want it back. Or we can sit by and moan about how corrupt things are.

(ACV): Are you planning to show it in India? Have they banned it yet?

(JK): The film will be shown in India. I have no reason to think they will ban it. It probably won’t be shown on Star before an India-England T20, but it will be shown. And if they won’t show it, the internet is a wonderful
thing.

(ACV): You interviewed a few ex-Indian cricketers with more coming through the game’s administration, do you think the game would fare better if these people were running cricket and the game wasn’t solely run by voluntary administrators?

(JK): No one running cricket should be doing so without being paid, that is a must. But when people say ex-players should be involved, they must remember that Cricket Australia chairman and big three man (Srinavasan & Clarke) Wally Edwards is an ex- Test Player. Dave Richardson of the ICC is an ex player as well, and has gone along with this disgusting strangling of our beautiful sport.
Ex-players are just human beings, the problem here is more the system. There is no transparency, no accountability and no independence. That means, regardless of ethnicity or playing ability, the next lot of men, or women, running cricket, could continue the horrendous job that the big three have started.

ACV
Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)

(ACV): Some might see the film as a nostalgic lament and no more. How do you convince cricket fans this isn’t really just about Test Cricket but cricket itself and is relevant to the here and now?

(JK): Those people wouldn’t have watched our film very closely then. We want more Test nations, not fewer. We want cricket boards to market and organise Test Cricket in such a way it makes significant revenue themselves.
I am not from Britain, I come from a city (Melbourne) where 90,000 people turn up for one day of Test cricket. You can’t tell me that the game is so flawed that only Australians, English and Indians can fund it. The fact that people are fighting for something that is 150 years old proves what an amazing game it is.
Also, I love T20 cricket. Maybe not in the same way as I love Test Cricket. But I love that cricket has created a game that can bring in kids and women. That can appeal to non-cricket fans. That can show to people who find five days just too much, that there is still a part of the sport out there. My biggest fear is one spelt out by ex-Indian player Arun Lal, that the concern is that T20 cannibalises Test cricket, and then fades away as fads and TV shows can do. What are we then left with? And without any proper governance, and anyone taking long term smart decisions, what is to stop that from happening?

(ACV): Is there room for 20/20 cricket and Test cricket and you’re not opposed to the Indian Premier League (IPL), even though some might say that is a target…?

(JK): I think Test Cricket and domestic leagues should co-exist. I think the IPL should have a window. I think all the players in the world should be available to play in it. I think that would strengthen the IPL.
I think that would strengthen Test Cricket. I think IPL teams should have two associate players on all their rosters to help professionalise the smaller nations. They are not doing all that, because the men in charge are not willing to do all that. The IPL doesn’t have a women’s league yet. How is that even possible? It is only now that the BCCI are paying their women professional wages, and it’s been years after it made its first billion dollars. The IPL can do so much, but you need men (or, heaven forbid, some women administrators) with vision for the game, and not just small term self interest on their mind.

(ACV): What has been the reaction of the cricketing world to the film? How have the boards reacted, if at all?

(JK):Everyone from inside cricket (as the horrible ECB saying goes) that we have talked about have loved the film, or at the least loved that we are making the film.
Mostly the cricket boards have ignored it, and they will continue to do so until it’s impossible not too. We have been onto rights holders the ABC and the BBC talking about this.
The English and Indian press have been very encouraging. There will be a backlash, there was already a hilarious rumour started that our film was funded by Lalit Modi as a way of discrediting us. I wish it had been, as we would have stayed in nicer hotels. The more coverage this film gets; the more pushback we will get.

(ACV): How did you raise funding? Was it solely through crowdfunding?

(JK): No, but it was solely through cricket fans. Anywhere we saw a cricket fan with a bulging wallet, our producer Sam Collins went over and tried to shake them down. When we started touring around Australia we also got into crowdsourcing, as we needed the money, and also because we wanted to know that we weren’t the only ones concerned. This isn’t a vanity project. This is a sport that over a billion people love, and it’s been shrunk for the self-interest of a few people who should know better.
We wanted to stand up for the ones who knew it was happening, and show the ones who didn’t know it was happening. If you love cricket, watch the film, make up your own minds,
And if you think we’re right, and something has to change, go to www.changecricket.com and join the fight for our sport.

#changecricket

  • Death of A Gentleman went on release in the UK on August 7
ACV
Review: SHARP, deftly assembled, and passionate, 'Death of A Gentleman' is a film few cricket fans would care to completely ignore. Even if you’re not a big fan of the game, such is the narrative and underdog perspective, it will pull you in and it is a classic David (Collins & Kimber) versus Goliath (the cricket boards of India, Australia and England) battle. It asks pertinent questions but gets very few meaningful answers. Collins and Kimber have admirably shone a light on some dark corners and what they have found is unacceptable to the fair-minded, but...and there is...just as it is with Sepp Blatter and FIFA, it will only have impact if those outside the game but within positions of power (ultimately, prime ministers Narendra Modi, David Cameron and Tony Abbott) decide to shake things up at board level – but that would be seen, in some quarters, as unnecessary politicking.
As establishment figures to some or lesser degree, it seems unlikely much will change, unless the ordinary fans kick up enough of a fuss and perhaps unthinkinkably, boycott and turn away from the game they love and switch off the TV (and particularly 20/20 and ODIs) when it is broadcast. Otherwise, it will be left to the media to keep asking questions and making life that little bit less cosy for the men who run the gentleman’s game...
ACV rating: ***1/2 (out of five)
(Sailesh Ram, editor of www.asianculturevulture.com)
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Written by Asian Culture Vulture