Ten great cricket movies and series to watch during lockdown

Fire in Babylon
This documentary details the journey of the West Indies cricket team in the 1970s and ’80s as they transitioned from entertaining but unsuccessful “calypso cricketers” to world beaters. With the ruthless Clive Lloyd as captain, the charismatic Viv Richards, and a fast-bowling unit that could make oppositions tremble, West Indies responded to racial prejudice with a fiery brand of cricket, becoming an integral part of the black pride movement sweeping the region at the time. Particularly evocative are the scenes that detail the team’s response to England captain Tony Greig’s comment that they would “grovel” when they were down, and the one that explains how the South African government tried to lure Richards to be part of a rebel tour to the ostracized apartheid state with a blank cheque and “honorary white” status. Amazon Prime Video (US, UK)

Cliques, a fix, a last-ball six – Lagaan, an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, has all the drama you’d expect from a Bollywood cricket film. Set in pre-independent India, it follows the story of a village struggling against drought and unjust taxes. Their British masters offer to play the villagers in a game of cricket: if the villagers win, the taxes are waived, but if they lose, they are doubled. The British are experienced cricketers, while the villagers have to learn the game. Who wins the match? Watch and find out. Netflix (India)

The Ashes: the Greatest Series
If you didn’t already think the 2005 Ashes series was the best ever played, this DVD box set will convince you. While hosts England were on form heading into the series, the all-conquering Australians hadn’t lost a Test series in more than four years. Glenn McGrath predicted a 5-0 whitewash for Australia. What followed was cinematic. Twenty-three days of unparalleled drama, followed by disproportionate acclaim for one side and severe criticism of the other. The Ashes 2005 was the stuff of legend. Channel 4 (Australia)

“Agent Smith” Hugo Weaving as Douglas Jardine – we’re sold! This seven-part miniseries is about the infamous tactics of bowling from around the wicket with a leg-side field employed by Jardine’s England to counter Don Bradman’s batting prowess. Bodyline was Weaving’s first television role. He would go on to achieve fame for his parts in the Matrix and Lord of the Rings franchises. Available on Amazon Prime Video (US)

Death of a Gentleman
In 2014, the cricket boards of India, England and Australia = the Big Three – managed to pass a proposal through the ICC that would give them disproportionate power in the running of the global game. Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber covered the issue and attempted to get answers about what it would mean for cricket. Featuring interviews with then ECB chairman Giles Clarke, who comes across as public enemy No. 1, thanks in part to his constant smirk; BCCI chief N Srinivasan; and a host of other cricketers and administrators, including the infamous Lalit Modi, this documentary is an incisive look at how the politics of cricket works. Amazon Prime Video (US and UK)

A deaf and mute boy from a remote Indian village dreams of playing cricket for the national team. What follows is a heart-warming tale of passion, loss, hope and triumph. The protagonist, Iqbal, begins training in an empty field using buffaloes for fielders, and has for a coach a former cricketer with a drinking problem, but he stays the course and begins making the improbable a reality. Watch out for a cameo from Kapil Dev, who plays a national selector. Zee 5 (India)
The Test: a new era for Australia’s team
How do you recover when you’ve been caught on tape cheating? When your captain and one of your best players have been banned for a year? Australia were faced with these questions following the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in South Africa. The road to redemption was not easy. It is one we can all relive from the comfort of our couches with The Test. Amazon Prime Video (Global)

Inside Edge
This racy web series is much more interested in back-room dealings and the private lives of those involved in the sport than anything that happens on the field. Team owners, administrators and bookies play as much of a role as cricketers in this story of the fictional T20 franchise Mumbai Mavericks. While fixing is a prominent element of the plot of the ten-episode first season, the worlds of cricket and politics collide in the second. There are plenty of recognisable names from Bollywood in the cast and some slick visual effects to enhance the match scenes. A third season is expected to be released in late 2020. Amazon Prime Video (Global)

Roar of the Lion
This five-part web series documents the return of Chennai Super Kings after a two-year suspension from the IPL and explores what the ban and return meant to the franchise’s iconic captain, MS Dhoni. While there are detailed interviews with the players, including Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, and of course, Dhoni, the most interesting thing about the series is that it captures the fanaticism with which CSK fans support their team and their devotion to their thala, Dhoni. Disney+ Hotstar (India)

The Lady Vanishes
Alfred Hitchcock’s critically acclaimed 1938 mystery thriller is not principally about cricket, but it features two memorable characters, Charters and Caldicott, a pair of cricket enthusiasts returning to England to watch the end of a Test match. After their train’s route is blocked, they, along with the film’s other characters, are forced to stay overnight in an inn, where the film’s mystery ensues. Charters and Caldicott’s chemistry is vital to The Lady Vanishes and a lot of it is based on their love of cricket. Particularly amusing is a scene in which Charters explains a Wally Hammond dismissal using sugar cubes as the players and umpires. The pair, played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, became recurring characters in other films and even had a BBC show of their own. YouTube (global)

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