Death of a Gentleman scoops prestigious Sports Journalists' Assocation award
Death of a Gentleman, the independently produced film investigating the dysfunctional governance of world cricket, has been recognised as the Television Sports Documentary of the Year at the prestigious Sports Journalists' Awards in London.
The 96-minute film, directed and produced by Sampson Collins and Jarrod Kimber, the ESPNcricinfo writer, beat off a strong shortlist including Catch Me If You Can, BBC Panorama's investigation into allegations of doping in athletics, and One Day in May, BT Sport's story of the Bradford City fire, both of which were highly commended.
MUTV's profile of the boxer Anthony Crolla, Million Dollar Dreams, also made the shortlist, alongside Missed Warnings, BBC Yorkshire's take on the Bradford disaster, and Rooney: The Man Behind the Goals by Goalhanger Films.
Collins' and Kimber's film, which premiered at the Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2015 and has since been distributed worldwide, was cut from more than 400 hours of footage and interviews conducted in England, Australia, Sri Lanka, India and Dubai.
The project started life in 2011 as an investigation into Test cricket's uncertain future, but soon became a running commentary on the so-called "Big Three takeover", the ICC structural reforms - rubber-stamped in February 2014 - whereby India, England and Australia claimed ownership of the sport's finances, and with it the game's future.
In the course of their investigation, the duo secured key interviews with two of the three men who drove through the reforms, N Srinivasan and Giles Clarke, the then-president and chairman of the BCCI and ECB respectively, as well as David Becker, the former head of the ICC's legal department, who quit his post after blowing the whistle on India's intentions to withdraw from a tour of South Africa.
Srinivasan was subsequently forced to stand down from his twin roles as BCCI president and ICC chairman after India's Supreme Court found him to have a conflict of interest as the owner of the IPL franchise, Chennai Super Kings.
Clarke, who stepped up to the newly created post of ECB president last year, had been considered the frontrunner to succeed Srinivasan as the next full-time ICC chairman, but his candidacy received a double blow last month when it emerged that neither Australia nor South Africa would be willing to support his election bid.
At the recent ICC board meeting in Dubai, Srinivasan's replacement as chairman, Shashank Manohar, set in motion a possible repeal of many of the board's reforms, having announced back in November that he "did not agree with the Big Three countries bullying the ICC". He also announced his plans to head a five-man steering committee to review the decisions made by Srinivasan, Clarke and Wally Edwards, Cricket Australia's former chairman.
"It is brilliant that the film has been recognised but, to be honest, I'd prefer it if we hadn't had to make it in the first place." Collins told ESPNcricinfo. "We are thrilled that there has been some sort of recognition within the game that things need to change, but this is a key moment. The things that happen now have to be meaningful, and not just lip service.
"Nothing has changed yet, in the sense that the game is still looking to India and seeing what India are going to do," Collins added. "It just so happens that India at the moment, in Shashank Manohar, is talking about change.
"It's up to the boards of England and Australia to follow suit, to recognise the importance of who they put forward for positions of power, and to embrace the need for checks and balances on the people who make the big decisions in the sport."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket