'Death of A Gentleman'
Directors: Sam Collins, Jarrod Kimber, Johnny Blank
Cast: Chris Gayle, Ravi Shastri, Lalit Modi, Harsha Bhogle, N Srinivasan, Rahul Dravid, Kevin Pietersen, David Warner
‘Death of A Gentleman’, spearheaded by two sports journalists, is about a journey through the haloed portals of the immensely popular sport, cricket, and how they stumble upon one of the biggest sporting scandals ever. It’s about skill, passion, greed, power and the gamble for a payoff that might have well been bigger than the sport itself.
Watch the trailer of 'Death of A Gentleman'
Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber started their journey looking for reasons why test cricket was on the decline. As they were digging deep into the heart of cricketing glory, they unearthed evidence to suggest that Test cricket was being sacrificed at the altar of neo-liberal economics where the governing bodies of three major cricket playing nations - India, Australia and England - sought to neglect the widely revered, haloed form of the game in favour of shorter versions that had wider audience reach and raked in richer profits for its benefactors. They discovered that world cricket was being structured in such a way that ensured the domination of three major aforementioned cricket playing nations.
This documentary pinpoints N Srinivasan as the kingpin, who, as the then chairman of the ICC, former President of the BCCI and Managing Director of India Cements (owner of Chennai Super Kings franchise), sullied the sport with his deep seated avariciousness. Cricket politics have always been played out in the widespread glare of the media and India’s bullying of South Africa in 2013-14, resulting in the reduction in the length of the tour, brought on by BCCI’s dispute with CSA President Haroon Lorgat, was basically seen by the general public as a heroic stand against ancient oppressors. But this investigative film exposes the true picture that in a way pulls away the mask of post-colonial bravura and lays open the nefariousness of the action thereof. The shortening of that tour cost the CSA something close to $20 mln and had the backing of Australian and English cricket boards, as they, together with the Indian board, were prime beneficiaries of the IPL hoopla that was raging around that time.
Gideon Haigh raises the most pertinent question here. ‘Does cricket make money in order to exist or is it now the case that it exists in order to make money?’ If you go by current form, it’s obviously the latter that is true. The governing council appears to have relegated its responsibility to expand the reach and purview of the game in order to mine the cash cow that has become an instant rage. ECB’s Giles Clark is blatant in his objection to the inclusion of the sport in the Olympics and is quite proud to announce that his board’s interests come first. Huge sums of money do not get passed on to the poorer boards as the tiny elite remain tight fisted and blinkered in their vision for the future of the game.
The absence of transparency in the international game is evident. The then International Cricket Council chief, N Srinivasan, who was dislodged from the chairmanship of the National board by the Supreme Court, is involved in a war of words with Lalit Modi (the originator of T20 franchise), another infamous corrupter of the game. The film points out that cricket has become an entertainment show instead of a pure sport that it started off as. India, England and Australia have formed a near impregnable triumvirate of power that has sought to destabilize the less fortunate of the game.
Cricket, though reckoned as amongst the richest sport in the world, continues to revel in its regional ambit. There is mention of how Chinese cricket, one of the affiliates, receives only $39,000 in funding for the promotion of the sport in that country. Is this how cricket is going to achieve world-wide prominence? The answer lies in this stinging expose that lays bear the itchy underbelly within the governing council and makes a clarion call for all those who love the sport to wake up and smell the tainted currency that is demeaning and detrimental to the progress of this much loved sport. This documentary is amongst the best about sport in general and the finest amongst cricketing documentaries that have come before this.