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#WATCH: ‘Death of a Gentleman’ – Two cricket fans fight for the game they love

From the outside, Sampson Collins and Jarrod Kimber share little in common. 

Englishman Collins is an old Etonian with a designer beard and fashion sense to match and who talks in measured sentences.

Australian Kimber is, well, slightly less measured and has rather dubious taste in footwear.

But if there’s one thing they share, it is an unbridled love of Cricket, in particular the slow-burning wonderfulness that is Test Cricket.

This venerable format of the game is dying and Collins and Kimber – along with this author and countless millions – aren’t happy.   

Whilst the game is far more exciting to watch than it was two decades ago – when a result was the exception rather than the rule – not enough importance is given it as the lucrative T20 format takes hold across the cricketing world.

The money flowing from T20 cricket is shifting priorities. 

The marquee Test series are increasingly becoming the preserve of the ‘Big Three’ nations – India, Australia and England while the likes of Sri Lanka, the West Indies, New Zealand and others are given the peels headed for the green-top bin.

Thirty years after Sri Lanka first toured England – for a one-off Test which was drawn but not before Agnew, Botham and Co had been carted to all parts of Lord’s – the country that’s produced the likes of Murali, Sanga, Mahela, Aravinda, Wettimuny etc still can’t get a 3-Test series in England.

As power and money become centred round the Big Three, Test Cricket will continue to decline.

That is the contention that Collins and Kimber make.

But how has it come to this?  And why has it come to this?  Why is Cricket in decline when other sports like Rugby and Football are expanding?  These are some of the questions raised by the pair’s’ new documentary ‘Death of a Gentleman’, a powerful examination of the mismanagement of world cricket – a game now run for the “amusement” of a handful of very rich men.

As I interview Collins and Kimber at Somerset House, Central London is heaving with road works, sirens and summer tourists. 

The journalists-turned-filmmakers struggle to get themselves heard. 

It echoes their struggle to get answers and to be heard by the people who are supposed to be the guardians of the game they love – people like Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the current chairman of the International Cricket Council; Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board and Wally Edwards, chairman of Cricket Australia.

They are all, Collins and Kimber insist, men who love cricket.

But they are also fallible men. 

Billionaire Srinivasan’s own Indian Premier League (IPL) team, the Chennai Super Kings, is set to be banned over the 2013 IPL match-fixing scandal and yet he continues to run world cricket. 

Clarke most infamously flew in the flamboyant – and the now-very incarcerated – American billionaire Allen Stanford into Lord’s, much to the chagrin of the groundsman at the Home of Cricket.

Edwards meanwhile, has been criticized by the Federation of International Cricketer’s Associations (FICA), among others, for his support of the ‘Big Three’ nexus.

It’s a startling state of affairs but, according to Collins and Kimber, easily fixable if only the men in power listened to, above all, the fans of the game – the men, women and children who ultimately help line the pockets of those who are in turn dragging the game down.

 

 

‘Death of a Gentleman’ is the closing night film at the London Indian Film Festival 2015 on 23 July.  The film opens in the UK in August.
 
Note – A slide in this video mistakenly refers to N Srinivasan, chairman of the ICC as ‘A. Srinivasan’.  We apologize for this oversight.

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