Review of "Death of a Gentleman (DVD)"

published 18/11/2015 | thedevilinme
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Death of a Gentleman (DVD)

Death of a Gentleman (DVD)

Star – Cricket
Genre – Sports Documentary
Run Time – 100 minutes
Certificate – N/A
Country – U.K
Amazon – £8.50 DVD
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Test Cricket and British foreign policy are very similar beasts. On the surface it’s all about this revered British sense of fairplay and morality but underneath we are just as conniving and tricky as everyone else to get the great game to go our way. We publicly accuse the Pakistani’s of picking the seam and scuffing the pitch whilst we do exactly the same, as we do the Paris killers for being animals when we are pinging in missiles through kid’s bedrooms windows, hiding behind that respectability. It was fair to say Bodyline was up there with Iraq as a cricketing sporting analogy, a ghastly hypocritical business in the sun and sand.

So, long come Aussie cricket writers Jarrod Kember and British blogger Sam Collins attempting to get to grips with that stuff and what’s ‘not cricket’ these days explores and what they think has gone wrong with modern day game, in particular the obvious demise of test cricket around the world. But this film really could be made most years as cricket is always in some sort of flux and muddle.

Their central thesis and accusation is that England and Australia cricket boards have struck a deal with the BCCI (Indian board of control) to carve up world cricket for themselves under the leadership of Jagmohan Dalmiya and undermine the world games administrators at the International Cricket Council in the process. When the Indian cricket was led by the equally tricky Dalit Modhi, the creator of the IPL, he pushed the ICC towards splitting the ICC money equally between the ten test playing nations. But the cricket powerplayers plotted against him and three years later he had a life ban for match fixing in the IPL whilst Australia, England and India made their move against the ICC and now taking 50% of cricket’s revenues for themselves, then ECB chief Giles Clarke one of the big noises on that deal. The three nations said they generated most of cricket’s money and so they should have their fairshare. This, of course, reduced subsidies to nations like Pakistan and Sri-Lanka and they are now trading broke and certainly weakened the test game alongside India being not too bothered about test cricket anymore as it was all about the IPL for them now. The same trio has recently pushed for the ICC to reduce the World Cup down to ten teams so they get more money still.

Fearing the decay of test cricket because of the money spilt the ICC employed an independent arbiter to report on the game and make recommendations. An ex Judge called Lord Woolfe got that gig and suggested they share that money out more or the smaller nations will just shrivel up and there will be no test cricket. England under Clarke, and India and Australia, ignored it and crashed on enriching themselves. So poor were the finances of nations like the West Indies and Sri Lanka that players were on less than a grand a day to play an ODI whilst others went unpaid. No wonder match fixing peaked. West Indies biggest cricket star, Chris Gayle, says in the film that when you’re on $850 grand to play IPL for just 6 weeks a year then it’s a serious distraction to playing test cricket’. It’s no wonder the small nation’s international cricket is dyeing out as the big names retire early to play IPL, as Mitchell Johnson and Younus Khan have done this week. And with the Big Bash in Australia and other franchise leagues in the Emirates and Bangladesh up and running it will get worse still for the longer form of the game.

Giles Clarke gets unfair stick and had a lot of balls to juggle as the head of English cricket as he had to negotiate a huge deal with Sky to keep the domestic game going, hold on to his best English players to keep them away from the IPL and so English test cricket the strongest attended in the world and stay in favor with India. Our intrepid journalist certainly enjoys painting a rather arrogant Giles Clarke as the villain here and forgets what he has done for the game. I don’t think the likes of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe can be trusted with a tenth of a billion dollars each and I agree with India, England and Australia there. We have seen the corruption with FIFA and The International Olympic committee over the years to see what will happen if the smaller nations are trusted with power and equality.

The films moral heart and contrast is the boys following the test career of Ed Cowan, who gets his debut when Kember and Collins begin their project. This narrative line is supposed to represent the innocence of cricket against the backdrop of greed and division. But if Ed Cowan was offered 500k to play IPL he would probably be off. Look, what this film is really about is the dislike of IPL by crickets tradionalists, and the fact India cashed in first, especially people from a multi million dollar Indian company called ‘Indian Cement’, who have ex employees in all the important positions in Indian cricket, including Mr Srinivason, the recent head of the ICC. But the two can co-exist as long as the other test playing nations accept India as franchise kings. You can’t set up the Big Bash and then moan about the IPL and the erosion of test cricket. I know the ECB are desperate to start a franchise league in 2019 and have drawn up secretly plans to get rid of four counties, Northants one of them, Kent, Leicestershire and Sussex to follow.

Because the film is essentially having ago at India wrestling control of the game from 100-years domination by the MCC this ends up a polemic against India. Kember says the Indians are blocking the concept of a world game and halting nations like America and China getting involved by not pushing for cricket in the Olympics and helping to fund their cricket set up. He has a point. Dropping the 50 over World Cup down to ten teams is not what cricket fans want. I still don’t think cricket will usurp baseball in the US though.

Since Richardson of South Africa took over the ICC last year there has been a feeling of a great divide as poorer international cricket teams going up against the BBCI. When the ICC was led by India they allowed Asian players to get away with a lot so to empower performance and results, none more so than the 15% arm bend rule, I say to allow brown skin cricketers to carry on chucking. This contributed significantly to Muhlitheran’s absurd 700 plus test wickets at just 24. This enabled brown skinned teams to cheat victories. The feeling was they did it was to counter tall white pace but I think it was return racism for all that had gone before when the MCC ran the world game. Under Richardson leadership we have seen ten test bowlers a year banned for chucking as he cleans them out of the game. India’s Harbijan Singh should have been banned but powerhouse India, England and Australia have yet to have any bowlers called for chucking.

As far as this film being for everyone that’s unlikely. It’s only really a film for cricket fans. Its interesting if you don’t know the in’s and out of cricket administration but sadly as thrilling to non cricket fans as Lloyds Bank yearly report and returns are to Paris Hilton. It’s good that the film got made but may have ended the two young cricket writing careers early as the rather green bloggers harassed and annoyed the big players of world cricket.

Its packed full or contributions from the stars of the game and the big name writers and commentators and perhaps too much of Harris and Kember on screen. What it doesn’t do is get opinions from the smaller cricket nations on their thoughts on the big three domination of the sport, which is rather important. I tweeted Kember and he said they tried to get them to take part but they didn’t want to take part for obvious reasons. If they did and said they had no real issues with money distribution and fairplay to India for making the game so much money then Kember and Harris film is somewhat in the doldrums. Saying that there was something to say here and they said it.


Sam Collins
Jarrod Kimber
Jonathan Agnew
David Becker
Ian Chappell
Giles Clarke
Ed Cowan
Rahul Dravid
Chris Gayle
Gideon Haigh
Michael Holding
John Inverarity
Peter Lalor
Justin Langer
Virginia Lette

RATINGS – 7.9/10.0 (72 votes) –50 % critic’s approval


The Times –‘Death of a Gentleman is a spirited sports documentary that will blow the minds of hardcore cricket enthusiasts but numb the bums of the uninitiated’.

Timeout –‘This heartfelt doc about cronyism and racketeering in the world of cricket feels particularly timely’.

The Guardian –‘The gathering clouds never quite obscure the filmmakers' evident love of the game’.


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Comments on this review

  • hiker published 02/01/2016
    Which all just underlines that no sport is 'just a game' anymore - all of them are about business and money. Shame really.
  • supercityfan published 16/12/2015
    Excellent review - sounds like just my cup of tea.
  • mikemelmak published 02/12/2015
    I didn't know there was such behind the scenes machinations in international cricket - my eyes have been opened.
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Product Information : Death of a Gentleman (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Sub Genre: Entertainment Documentaries

Director(s): Sam Collins, Jarrod Kimber, Johnny Blank

Sub Sub Genre: General

DVD Region: DVD

Actor(s): Kevin Pietersen, Rahul Dravid, Michael Holding, Chris Gayle, Jonathan Agnew

EAN: 5060192816549

Production Year: 2014

Classification: Exempt


Listed on Ciao since: 14/11/2015