In essence this is a really simple one. Probably the most important cricket film in our lifetimes, one that tried to at least have a stab at getting to the power-brokers and making other journalists sit up and listen to what some of us social media zealots had been banging on about since the Big Three carve up, and which slowly but surely is setting the narrative on what is happening in the world game today.
Jarrod and Sam, who both TLG and I can speak to freely, which is pretty nice of them, are every bit as deserving of the good journo award as George was last year. They are not your typical reporters. Jarrod, in particular, has always been one that has intrigued me. His is a bloggers style taken that extra mile that is beyond nearly all of us. His piece, for example, on the beaten England team at Sydney was a masterpiece, capturing the spirits of a defeated army better than the sniping, leak-driven, agenda-laden bog paper our media was serving up. He was also the journo responsible for the reading out of the Top 10 Worst Journalists poll to the press corps at the Sri Lanka tests. He gets the blogging mentality because he is one. He recognises the fandom we have, that that is a positive energy for the sport, not one to be derided, abused, ignored or treated with contempt. So while a Selvey will sneer, or a Bunkers go into a paroxsym of Cookie worship, Jarrod is sniping around the edges.
I was fortunate to be allowed to see Death of a Gentleman early. It was an interesting film, and probably Sam and Jarrod would admit that it isn’t perfect. But what it is is a reminder of how test cricket exists for no real logical reason now. Sure, the Ashes might sell, as might an India v Pakistan match-up, but little else matters. The all-consuming T20 expansion around the globe is seen as a threat, but the film argues it shouldn’t be. It highlights what test cricket meant to Ed Cowan, and that a number of other players see it that way too. But then it turned to the governance of the game, and the film got to its main point.
Sports bodies around the world are viewed with suspicion. I think the term is “a toxic brand”. Collins and Kimber bring that toxicity to the screen. Interviewing Clarke should come with a Hazardous Material warning, while Wally Edwards probably told them to foxtrot oscar. Srini avoided every question that might tie him down. While they might not have found the smoking gun, what they did find were rooms with a huge smell of discharged bullets. The biggest of them all was being left outside the meeting rooms, given short shrift by the security guards, and fed platitudes by the press officers.
While some of the key players, well, I mean Srini really, are not in the picture any more, the evidence Jarrod and Sam needed is coming out. Tim Wigmore is doing massively good work (keep that up and he’s in the running for next year) in highlighting the plight of the associates. Peter Miller and Andrew Nixon are two vociferous associate defenders. The game’s concentration, rather than widening is disheartening to all. While countries treat test matches like the last thing they want to play, there are loads of countries dying to give it a try. It’s a nonsense.
But let’s put it this way. They made Giles Clarke look even worse than we thought he was. That is a stupendous achievement. They have continued to fight the good fight, taking the film to Australia, holding a demonstration outside The Oval, continuing to keep the film in the public eye. The mainstream British media have done little to highlight the film since (with some notable exceptions) and certain senior journalists have not even cast their eye over it, or been major defenders of the ECB in their own lovely way.
So for the efforts to bring the dark arts of cricket administration under the scrutiny of the media, the cricketing public and anyone who might actually give a stuff how our sport is run, I am giving a Dmitri to Jarrod and Sam for their excellent Death of A Gentleman. Available on Amazon etc, and very recommended. My heartfelt thanks for all the work they have done.