October 2, 2013

Where are the great cricket films?

Boxing, baseball, motor-racing and other sports have produced classics that films based on our game cannot hold a candle to
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Last week I watched two new films about sport, 42 about baseball and Rush about Formula One. So why has there never been a good movie about professional cricket? Come on, let's be honest. The odd decent TV series, maybe. Endless revisiting of the Bodyline series, certainly. It is true that charming films (such as Lagaan) have used amateur cricket as a recurrent motif. But a proper, grown-up film about top-flight cricket that also appeals to non-cricket fans? I wish I was wrong, but I can't think of one, either fictional or a documentary.

Other sports manage it. Baseball has produced dozens of films, from The Natural and Bull Durham to Moneyball and 42 (more about that in a moment). Boxing boasts Raging Bull and the Oscar-winning When We Were Kings. Motor-racing mined documentary gold with the magisterial Senna, and has now inspired the sparkling Rush, a recreation of the Formula One rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The Damned United brought to life football's dugout and changing room. American football allowed Al Pacino to give one of the greatest of all team-talks in Any Given Sunday. Television went one better with Friday Night Lights, a remarkable five-season series based on a sheltered town in Texas obsessed with its high-school football team. I finished the final season wondering why no one has achieved - or attempted - anything so ambitious or complete about cricket.

In a recent ESPNcricinfo blog, Jonathan Wilson asked a similar question about the lack of fine cricket novels. Cricket provides the social backdrop for several good novels, notably JL Carr's A Season in Sinji and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland. But few novelists have dared to tackle the nitty gritty of professional cricket.

As my father is a novelist who loves cricket, and happens to be sitting next to me, I asked him what makes writing fiction about cricket so difficult. "I've often wondered if there's something unique about first-class cricket that eludes both film-makers and novelists. It's easy enough on the village green, but as soon as I strayed onto the first-class pitch, I came up against two recurrent problems. First, though it sounds trivial, the fictional names somehow undermined the characters' credibility. Secondly, even within the freedom of a novel, cricket action is very hard to dramatise convincingly. It's hard to capture the pace and the tempo of cricket."

Dramatising the action is even harder on film. Actors invariably can't bat, they can't bowl, and directors, for some bizarre reason, tell them to appeal to the umpire when someone is clean-bowled or hits it straight to cover point. And that's without trying to capture the latest shemozzle of the DRS.

The difficulty of filming realistic cricket matches explains the impulse to set dramatisations deep in the historical past: once the protagonists are poncing around in Edwardian striped caps, the fact that they can't play cricket is somehow less central. In the absence of verisimilitude, cricket writers take refuge in caricature. But cricket's familiar nostalgic sepia tint deprives us of the contemporary social realism that makes Friday Night Lights so immediate and powerful.

Watching Rush last week suggested another problem facing cricket films. Motor-racing, like boxing, invites the pleasing simplicity of a two-handed duel: two men fighting, almost to the death. When the central characters have richly contrasting personalities - as was the case with the hedonistic Hunt and the calculating Lauda - all the elements of dramatic tension are automatically built into the structure of the story.

Dramatising the action is hard on film. Actors invariably can't bat, they can't bowl, and directors, for some bizarre reason, tell them to appeal to the umpire when someone is clean-bowled or hits it straight to cover point

One reason why Bodyline has been so tempting for film-makers is that the haughty colonial arrogance of Douglas Jardine creates a perfect counterpoint for Bradman's gutsy Aussie resilience. Much more often, however, cricket's greatest rivalries are more abstracted. We think of Tendulkar and Lara vying to be the greatest batsman in the world. Or Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee pushing each other to be the best allrounder in the world. In fact, some of the greatest rivalries have been played out within the same team - think of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Rush comes down to the last race of the 1976 season, with two champions pushing each other to the limit. That's harder to recreate in cricket.

42 made me wonder if there isn't a subtler problem with portraying cricket in film. It describes the life of Jackie Robinson, who, by signing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, became the first black man to play in the major leagues. Until then baseball operated a system of total racial segregation. In 1946 there were 400 players in the major leagues, every one of them white. In 1947 that number dropped to 399. The one was Jackie Robinson.

In many ways it is an unremarkable retelling of an absolutely remarkable story - The New Yorker justly described it as a "square film". But somehow that didn't matter, because the grandeur and importance of the true story itself could fill the gaps left by the film-making. Perhaps that's the whole point. The history of baseball, America's "national pastime", is also the story of 20th-century America. And what a story it is: the emergence of a former colony into the world's greatest power, struggling with its own demons as it does so. Cricket doesn't have such obviously heroic faultlines to explore.

Until now, perhaps. In the whole history of international cricket, from 18th-century English lawns to T20 franchises today, I cannot think of a more remarkable story than the rise of Indian cricket. "Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British," as Ashis Nandy put it. And it is. Indian cricket possesses every ingredient of great drama. India's success on the pitch perfectly mirrors its ascent as a world power, with the inevitable tensions that follow along every axis - of race, region and religion. Above all, Indian cricket almost certainly inspires more love and emotion than any other national sport in the world.

What more could an aspiring Oscar-winner want for material?

Ed Smith's latest book is Luck - A Fresh Look at Fortune. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on October 3, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    Both 42 and Rush are American movies or targeted towards American viewers . The game of cricket is not yet popular with the american masses and they are mostly played by the Asian diaspora . This is the main reason why you would not find any thing major if you look for with in the american focused market. Bodyline miniseries is a cult .. This is because it is an Australian production . If you expand your horizon outside of American markets , you will find handful movies based on cricket or used cricket as the backdrop

    I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer Save Your Legs!

    Documentary Trobriand Cricket: An Ingenious Response to Colonialism (1976) (Australia/Papua New Guinea) Not Cricket: The Basil d'Oliveira Conspiracy (2004) (UK) Cricket and the Meaning of Life (2005) (Canada) An Aussie Goes Barmy (2006) (Australia) An Aussie Goes Bolly (2008) (Australia) Breaking Boundaries (2008) (Ireland) Out of the Ashes (2010) (UK/Afghanistan) Fire in Babylon (2010) (UK) From the Ashes

  • Hitamn27 on October 2, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    "Main Hoon Shahid Afridi" is the Pakistani movie story revolves around the domestic cricket of Pakistan. Now a days movies is making on the story about cricket but the problem is that it is not entirely on cricket. i agree with ED Smith that movies should make on the entirely about cricket. i remember the show on National Geographic about the cricket where they were talking about the Reverse Swing and they interviewed Imran Khan and discuss about how he bowl the reverse swing.

  • archis100 on October 2, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    Language is such a divide... yes, Iqbal (1995, Hindi), directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, remains one of my favorite. It stars an young pacer (it is a film!) from the villages of India climbing up the ladder, aided by a washed up old cricketer as his coach. There is a strong story line and excellent acting by some seasoned heavyweights, but most importantly, many of the cricketing scenes are believable. The central character is superbly rendered by Shreyas Talpade. You may check out the youtube for it.

    As for novels, some excellent ones are by a certain Moti Nandi, who wrote in Bengali excellent novels based on sports, and some particularly on cricket, during the 70s and 80s. "Nonida Not Out" and "Twelfth Man" (Dwadosh Byakti) were complex plots, capturing a lot of the beauty of the game plus personal drama of the players involved.

  • John-Price on October 2, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    There are a lot more links with theatre than films. There are very many playwrights who are or have been cricket fans (e.g. Beckett, Pinter, Rattigan, Ayckbourn, Stoppard, Hare, Harwood, Gray, Travers) and a lot of cricket related plays - Ayckbourn - A Cricket Match & Time and Time Again, Ratigan - The Final Test, Richard Bean's - The English Game, Michael Pinchbeck - The Ashes, Richard Harris - Outside Edge.

    Also I think Lagaan is dismissed a little too quickly. It is an outstanding film.

    A final thought - perhaps Peter Gibbs' novel - Setting the Score - could be filmed. The problem is though, there is no American audience.

  • on October 2, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    There is a film, 'The Final Test' starring Jack Warner with Robert Morley and cameos by Len Hutton, Dennis Compton and other test players of the time. I think Alec Bedser has a speaking part as well. The film was made in 1953 and centred around the final test being played by Jack Warner who has a son whom he dearly wishes to be interested in the game. The son, however, has thoughts only for poetry and his icon, a poet played by Robert Morley. As it turns out Robt Morley's character is an avid cricket fan who, in his turn, idolises the character of Jack Warner. A black and white movie that has a periphery about cricket but you do see quite a few England test stars of the day. Nostalgia.

  • on October 2, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Lovely piece as ever Ed. Share your views on 42 entirely.

    I feel compelled, however, to point out that the grand old game has been well represented when it comes to scripting some classic movies. Take Charters and Caldicott in The 39 Steps; or Liberty Heights, the final part of Barry Levinson's magnificent Baltimore 'quadrology', where cricket is the subject of intense debate; or, better yet, The Big Lebowski, where cricket bats are the improbable weapon of choice for the German nihilists, a plot element that inspired a recent lengthy essay I found on the web dealing exclusively with the links between The Dude and cricket.

    In addition, that remarkably clever Trevor, Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things), is reportedly directing a movie about the D'Oliveira Affair. Morgan Freeman is, of course, the only choice for the lead; fortunately, he could just about pass for late 30s provided the makeup department do their job. John Goodman for Vorster, Jonah Hill for Cowdrey.

  • zoot364 on October 2, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    "Good and Bad at Games" was an excellent TV film on Channel 4, around 1983 not long after the channel began. Had a big cricket theme and the plot culminated at a match. Sport in general is pretty under represented in UK drama/films - there are examples from spots other than cricket but very few when you think how ever present sport is in UK media and society.

  • on October 5, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    Don't forget a few Australian cricket films... Save Your Legs and I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer!!

  • on October 5, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    The thing is if there is a country that can make a big movie on cricket, it's undoubtedly India. The Bollywood. Firstly because cricket is ever popular in this South Asian region, and secondly, most importantly, most of the USA is not even aware of the game to make a Hollywood movie on it. But the problem is that apart from Indians,few Pakistani,Nepali and Sri Lankans actually watch Bollywood movies. Usually Bollywood movies, as Russel Peters said, are too long and filled with stupid dances and overacting. So you can't expect an American or a European to fancy those types of movies. There goes the dream of seeing non cricket fans watching a cricket movie.

  • on October 4, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    recently a Pakistani movie was made on cricket which show cassed the modern day cricket with glamour ground realities .. if anyone is willing to watch it .. its a great movie .. and a proud Pakistani movie .. the name is .. main hoon shahid afridi .. based on a young cricketer inspired by shahid afridi the living legend

  • on October 3, 2013, 4:38 GMT

    Both 42 and Rush are American movies or targeted towards American viewers . The game of cricket is not yet popular with the american masses and they are mostly played by the Asian diaspora . This is the main reason why you would not find any thing major if you look for with in the american focused market. Bodyline miniseries is a cult .. This is because it is an Australian production . If you expand your horizon outside of American markets , you will find handful movies based on cricket or used cricket as the backdrop

    I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer Save Your Legs!

    Documentary Trobriand Cricket: An Ingenious Response to Colonialism (1976) (Australia/Papua New Guinea) Not Cricket: The Basil d'Oliveira Conspiracy (2004) (UK) Cricket and the Meaning of Life (2005) (Canada) An Aussie Goes Barmy (2006) (Australia) An Aussie Goes Bolly (2008) (Australia) Breaking Boundaries (2008) (Ireland) Out of the Ashes (2010) (UK/Afghanistan) Fire in Babylon (2010) (UK) From the Ashes

  • Hitamn27 on October 2, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    "Main Hoon Shahid Afridi" is the Pakistani movie story revolves around the domestic cricket of Pakistan. Now a days movies is making on the story about cricket but the problem is that it is not entirely on cricket. i agree with ED Smith that movies should make on the entirely about cricket. i remember the show on National Geographic about the cricket where they were talking about the Reverse Swing and they interviewed Imran Khan and discuss about how he bowl the reverse swing.

  • archis100 on October 2, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    Language is such a divide... yes, Iqbal (1995, Hindi), directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, remains one of my favorite. It stars an young pacer (it is a film!) from the villages of India climbing up the ladder, aided by a washed up old cricketer as his coach. There is a strong story line and excellent acting by some seasoned heavyweights, but most importantly, many of the cricketing scenes are believable. The central character is superbly rendered by Shreyas Talpade. You may check out the youtube for it.

    As for novels, some excellent ones are by a certain Moti Nandi, who wrote in Bengali excellent novels based on sports, and some particularly on cricket, during the 70s and 80s. "Nonida Not Out" and "Twelfth Man" (Dwadosh Byakti) were complex plots, capturing a lot of the beauty of the game plus personal drama of the players involved.

  • John-Price on October 2, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    There are a lot more links with theatre than films. There are very many playwrights who are or have been cricket fans (e.g. Beckett, Pinter, Rattigan, Ayckbourn, Stoppard, Hare, Harwood, Gray, Travers) and a lot of cricket related plays - Ayckbourn - A Cricket Match & Time and Time Again, Ratigan - The Final Test, Richard Bean's - The English Game, Michael Pinchbeck - The Ashes, Richard Harris - Outside Edge.

    Also I think Lagaan is dismissed a little too quickly. It is an outstanding film.

    A final thought - perhaps Peter Gibbs' novel - Setting the Score - could be filmed. The problem is though, there is no American audience.

  • on October 2, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    There is a film, 'The Final Test' starring Jack Warner with Robert Morley and cameos by Len Hutton, Dennis Compton and other test players of the time. I think Alec Bedser has a speaking part as well. The film was made in 1953 and centred around the final test being played by Jack Warner who has a son whom he dearly wishes to be interested in the game. The son, however, has thoughts only for poetry and his icon, a poet played by Robert Morley. As it turns out Robt Morley's character is an avid cricket fan who, in his turn, idolises the character of Jack Warner. A black and white movie that has a periphery about cricket but you do see quite a few England test stars of the day. Nostalgia.

  • on October 2, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Lovely piece as ever Ed. Share your views on 42 entirely.

    I feel compelled, however, to point out that the grand old game has been well represented when it comes to scripting some classic movies. Take Charters and Caldicott in The 39 Steps; or Liberty Heights, the final part of Barry Levinson's magnificent Baltimore 'quadrology', where cricket is the subject of intense debate; or, better yet, The Big Lebowski, where cricket bats are the improbable weapon of choice for the German nihilists, a plot element that inspired a recent lengthy essay I found on the web dealing exclusively with the links between The Dude and cricket.

    In addition, that remarkably clever Trevor, Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things), is reportedly directing a movie about the D'Oliveira Affair. Morgan Freeman is, of course, the only choice for the lead; fortunately, he could just about pass for late 30s provided the makeup department do their job. John Goodman for Vorster, Jonah Hill for Cowdrey.

  • zoot364 on October 2, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    "Good and Bad at Games" was an excellent TV film on Channel 4, around 1983 not long after the channel began. Had a big cricket theme and the plot culminated at a match. Sport in general is pretty under represented in UK drama/films - there are examples from spots other than cricket but very few when you think how ever present sport is in UK media and society.

  • on October 5, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    Don't forget a few Australian cricket films... Save Your Legs and I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer!!

  • on October 5, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    The thing is if there is a country that can make a big movie on cricket, it's undoubtedly India. The Bollywood. Firstly because cricket is ever popular in this South Asian region, and secondly, most importantly, most of the USA is not even aware of the game to make a Hollywood movie on it. But the problem is that apart from Indians,few Pakistani,Nepali and Sri Lankans actually watch Bollywood movies. Usually Bollywood movies, as Russel Peters said, are too long and filled with stupid dances and overacting. So you can't expect an American or a European to fancy those types of movies. There goes the dream of seeing non cricket fans watching a cricket movie.

  • on October 4, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    recently a Pakistani movie was made on cricket which show cassed the modern day cricket with glamour ground realities .. if anyone is willing to watch it .. its a great movie .. and a proud Pakistani movie .. the name is .. main hoon shahid afridi .. based on a young cricketer inspired by shahid afridi the living legend

  • jay57870 on October 4, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    The BMB movie has a close cricket link: Yograj Singh acts as Milkha's coach. He's an ex-India cricketer & notably the father of Yuvraj Singh. Yograj bonds "emotionally" with Farhan Akhtar (who plays Milkha superbly); it reminds him of his training days with Yuvi. The multi-talented Yuvi was a National U-14 roller-skating champion. But his dad threw out the medal & steered him solely to cricket. It pays off. Yuvi was a top performer in India's winning 2007 WorldT20 & 2011WC teams: he famously hit 6 sixes in an over off Stuart Broad in 2007; he was Man of the Tournament in 2011WC. Then calamity strikes in his prime: cancerous tumour in a lung. Yuvi beats it with expert treatment in USA. He returns to cricket but struggles. So he goes to France for fitness training & earns a fighting comeback to India's limited-overs squad. What a compelling story of grit & human spirit! Yuvi's a tall handsome man, who can act too! What more could an aspiring Oscar-winner want for material? Well said, Ed!

  • jay57870 on October 4, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    Ed - Spot on re: Indian cricket films! Maybe Bollywood can show the way: The super hit "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" is a "great drama" that aptly mirrors Ed's "inevitable tensions ... of race, region and religion"! It's a biopic & sports film based on the life of Milkha Singh, the iconic athlete. It's also a period film depicting the Partition of India (1947): His father's last words "Run Milkha Run" (translated) haunt him as the orphaned boy flees the riots in Punjab to a new life in free India. An intense dramatisation of Milkha on the run: a wayward refugee kid, a romantic village lad, a listless army soldier, an accidental world-class sprinter. The defining moment comes in the 400m final at the 1960 Rome Olympics: He looks back (flashback to his dying parents) & it costs him a heart-breaking 4th place finish. But the climax comes in 1962, when a reluctant Milkha is persuaded by PM Jawaharlal Nehru to run a friendly race in Pakistan. He wins. President Ayub Khan names him the "Flying Sikh"!

  • JAH123 on October 4, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    Nice insights Ed, but the main reason is that cricket is not big in the US. In terms of money and audience, the British, Indian and Australian film industries can't hold a candle to their American counterpart. Unless the power in film-making shifts away from the US or cricket becomes an American pastime, nothing will change no matter how good actors are or how well a director understands the nuances of the game.

  • on October 3, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    Jonny Brugh wrote a lovely one-man play called "The Second Test" which we went and saw in a workshop at the Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna. Eventually the play was finished and performed at the Auckland Town Hall and I dragged my kids along - glad I was too, because a group of legendary NZ players attended that night.

    The play recounts the extraordinary events on Boxing Day 1953 in Johannesburg, one of the most famous days in NZ cricket and which has been described a couple of times here on Cricinfo.

    The play has since been converted into a TV movie called "Tangiwai" which screened on national television here in NZ in the prime time Sunday night slot last year. It is well worth a look - full cast, some actual recreation of that famous day and Iain O'Brien (one of the best NZ commentators at present) playing Neil Adcock.

  • Leonb on October 3, 2013, 22:43 GMT

    There is a terrific little film called Wonderous Oblivion which actually focusses on racial issues etc in England in the 60's(?) and uses cricket as the medium. There are cricket cards with Sobers, Compton etc that 'come to life' in the mind of a young boy. A west indian family moves in next door and the dad builds a pitch in his back yard. It is a simple film with a deep message and uses school boy cricket to help tell the story. Other than that, as the article says - there is not much.

  • on October 3, 2013, 22:37 GMT

    I greatly enjoyed the film "Tangiwai: A Love Story." Admittedly not just a cricket film, but it tells the story of Bob Blair falling in love, and his fiancee then being killed in the Tangiwai rail disaster while he was with New Zealand playing in South Africa in 1953. It's quite a tear jerker. I'm not sure how available it is outside of New Zealand. I'm guessing it's not.

  • on October 3, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    well i think it would be a good idea and i would really wish that hollywood makes a cricket film and then they launch it with a t20 cricket match in USA. That will certainly help bringing more people to cricket in USA. There r lots of guys who retired recently and have appeared in many commercial adds, so they know a little bit about acting. I would like to see Wasim Akram, Rahul Dravid, Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Symonds, Brian Lara.

  • on October 3, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    Though i appreciate the feelings,even if a good indian movie is made about cricket having indian actors and cast,i dont think it will get an oscar.

  • on October 3, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Ed... you must watch "Ferrari Ki Sawaari" thought it is nice slapstick ... directed by a Rajesh Mapuskar a talented director . A must see movie

  • LancsTwins on October 3, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    A good article, but two glaring admissions picked up by others. 'Fire in Babylon' is a documentary film that is every bit the equal of 'Senna.' And 'Chinaman - the legend of Pradeep Mathew' by Shehan Karunatileke, is not just a great cricket novel, it is a great novel that happens to be about cricket and obsession and Sri Lanka. Ed - and his dad! - should read it.

  • on October 3, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    Perhaps Ed should read the wonderful book by Shehan Karunatileke called - "Chinaman - The Legend of Pradeep Mathew" on a Mystery spinner. It even won the Regional and the Final Commonwealth Prize for the best Novel. Great Read!

  • on October 3, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    Fire in Babylon? More of a documentary, no less than a film!!

  • on October 3, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    As per I know two very good films been made on 'cricket' or keeping as main theme apart from 'Lagaan'. that would be 'Iqbal'(2005) and 'kai po che'(2013). I admit that the latter one though does not focuses fully on cricket, it emphasizes how the technicalities of cricket can be mixed well with emotions which are required to be in a film. I agree with the author that there are no potential films only on cricket much since it requires a lot effort to bring the right emotions in this game. May hollywood writers can take this as a challenge and hope to have a good cricket films in coming days!!

  • Viv189 on October 3, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    By sheer popularity of both cricket and movies, India should have led the way in cricket based movies.Though, we have a number of films centered around cricket, the good ones are rare. The best of them should be 'Iqbal' as some others have pointed out. 'Lagaan' was fine but dramatised cricket too much in my opinion. We also had a movie named "Dhoni' in Tamil released last year, though I wouldn't now how good it is. As for English fims, the characters Charters and Caldicott are absolutely marvellous in Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, though I doubt if there are really any good English movies based on cricket. Though I admit there must be difficulties in making movies about such a complex sport but I think majority of problem lies outside cricket. Much of the global filmmaking is dominated by American movies who are not interested in films on/about cricket, while in India too much focus is on glamour, and razzle-dazzle. However, with the coming of IPL one should expect more such movies.

  • mjrvasu on October 3, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    Get the Crowe brothers to do something! Think Russell Crowe acts a scene in a recent flim like he is playing cricket

  • on October 3, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    I personally loved the show on the birth of World Series Cricket and the way they have televised into a two part series with less use of archive footage. 'HowZat' depicts Kerry Packer and his struggles while he dealt with ACB, ICC and MCC. Now that's a great story. And if it weren't to be actual events, it would have still been a great narration. There are few Indian movies based on cricket, fiction of course but nothing has captured the audience like Lagaan did, mainly because of the drama element. And it also depends, to what extent the audience are willing to accept cricket as a means of fiction. Very rare and your dad sums it up nicely Mr. Ed Smith.

  • Badvibes on October 3, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Save Your Legs is not a bad movie though not a classic. One to look out for if you are an Indian fan is Beyond All Boundaries by Sushrut Jain -

  • anton_ego on October 3, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    'Dhoni' is an amazing Tamil movie about a cricket aspiring young kid and his dad who forces him into studies, and their misunderstanding and love. Not based on any cricket rivalry, but a touching movie which also portrays how intertwined cricket is with Indian people. Another movie 'Chennai 600028' is a great box-office hit of comedy genre, which tells the story of an aspiring small group of local cricketers in chennai and their quest to go to any lengths to win a local cricket tournament. And an upcoming Hollywood movie 'Million Dollar Arm' is something am waiting for!

  • on October 3, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    I think a movie could be made based on australia's tour of india in2001 when the australian team arrived with streak of 16 wins in test matches. They hammered india in 1st test at mumbai.And after that test whatever happend we all know. Laxman and dravid partnership,bhajji's hattrik, bhajji's 30 wickets in 3 tests, sachin's 126 @ chennai along with hia 3 crucial wickets in kolkata test match. I mean every little thing in that test series is unbeliveable.

  • crayzee02 on October 3, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Thanks for the well written piece Ed.

    I came across a Hindi movie recently called 'Kai Po Che!'. Set against the backdrop of the timeless India Australia test series of 1999/2000, it tells a tale of three close friends in Gujarat, united by their love for cricket, but forced to deal with politics, religious frictions and fallot from the riots. I highly recommend it.

  • on October 3, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    'Lagaan' anyone? It was nominated for an Oscar for Christs sakes!

  • IndiaNumeroUno on October 3, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Lagaan, Iqbal, Patiala House, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, Kai Po Che (to some extent).. are my favorites.

  • on October 3, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    I believe 'Iqbal' is another movie that the writer has missed out on. Directed by Nagesh Kukoonoor, it traces the steps of a mute fast bowler who strives to make it to the big stage. The movie is one of cinematographic excellence and the subtle points such as the bowling action and batting stances are excellently portrayed.

  • Zat. on October 3, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    OK, it's about amateur cricket, but this one will be very entertaining.

  • on October 3, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    i don't know about the best. but i can tell you probably the worst movie around cricket.. a movie called awwal number.

  • sbansban on October 3, 2013, 5:45 GMT

    I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned "Fire in Babylon" - the 2010 documentary film about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s..

  • sbansban on October 3, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    As archis100 has mentioned, the first novel that came to my mind after reading this article even before I read his post was Moti Nandi's "Nonida Not out" which I remember devouring during my middle school vacation. Trust me, it was uproariously funny but being a Bengali novel, his target audience was the folks in West Bengal and Bangladesh and much or most of it will be lost in translation to those who aren't intimately familiar with the culture in that region. The novel is mentioned on the Wikipedia page on Mr. Nandi and googling the book and the author also produces some sources of further info.

  • on October 3, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    America makes all the "big movies" and a lot of the good movies, Cricket is not popular in America, therefore, cricket-movies will only be b-grade Aussie movies or bollywood movies.

  • on October 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    The possibility of a good movie centred on cricket exists only in India which has both a thriving cricket scene and robust film industry.Besides Lagaan which did commercially very well, there have been several films even showing fictional Test Matches. However,the film when made will be in Hindi or one of the various Indian languages because while English may be the Language of cricket in India, the language of the movies remain Indian languages.Actors with little or no Hindi or Tamil for that matter mouth the language in films.A Hindi film can win Filfare awards, getting nominated as the foreign language film from India has a long shot at the Oscar.

  • on October 3, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Fire in Babylon was a very good movie.!! portrays the rise and rise of West indies cricket and THAT wonderful team!! The amount of research done to get all those interviews, old footage, and the like is commendable.!! :)

  • yohandf on October 3, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    SINHAWALOKANAYA is a sri lankan movie based on cricket at coloniel era . to face a challenge of british to play cricket series , local bunch of youngsters go to future ( to year 2005) with the help of time voyeger and meet Thilakarathne dilshan and another modern day cricketer . after training under them , they return just in time and beat british in a convincing manner .It s a Good movie screened before 2011 world cup .

  • Nelson77 on October 3, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    I think Mitchell And Webb perfectly summed up why there are no great cricket movies....

  • smudgeon on October 3, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    There are a number of stories in cricketing history worth committing to celluloid. The West Indian rebel tour of SA would make for a very strong, poingnant film, I feel. I am a little surprised there have only been a few mentions of the recent Kerry Packer/WSC mini-series from Australia, but perhaps it hasn't made it to DVD yet? Thing is, I don't see cricket (or sport) as being enough for a movie on it's own - like most good sport films, it is compelling when it is just a frame to hang a story over. If I wanted to watch a movie purely about cricket, well...I may as well watch a day of cricket, no? And I agree with most people here: despite it being a doco and therefore not the primary thrust of this article, the best film - hands-down - about cricket is "Fire In Babylon".

  • longshortcover on October 3, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    "Tangiwai" is a recent NZ film and although it's a drama about a historical train disaster, its very much about Bob Blair and the real story of his NZ callup and trip to South Africa, amazing piece of cricket history. Also features Iain O'Brien bowling as Neil Adcock. Great Film.

  • on October 3, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    Chennai 28 about gully cricket is the closest one can come

  • Mainchap on October 3, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    The cricket scene at the beginning of Flashman's Lady is the finest bit of storytelling I have ever come across. It must surely also be the best cricket narrative out there. Hilarious, and beautifully written. The way GMF conveys the fear of facing a fast bowler is pure genius. He captures the small things - which only someone who has experienced what it feels like when arriving at the crease to take guard against a very fast bowler can appreciate ("....and then the silence fell, and my bat thumped uncommon loud as I hit into the blockhole" or "I saw the ball in his hand at shoulder height, and then something fizzed beside my right knee, I prepared to lift my bat - and the wicket-keeper was tossing the ball to Felix at point. I swallowed in horror, for I swear I never saw the damned thing go, and someone in the crowd cried 'Well let alone, sir!')

  • on October 3, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    Neglecting 'Fire in Babylon'?

  • on October 3, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Fire in Babylon, a documentary on the supreme West Indies team which ruled the world in the 70's & 80's was a good film.

  • Chris_Howard on October 3, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    Great sports films are not about the sport.

    "The Natural", "Benchwarmers", "Mr 3000", "Field of Dreams", "Eight Men Out". All could be defined as "baseball films", but baseball is never the central character. The game is a vehicle for the story.

    To ask, "Where are the great cricket films?" perpetuates this key failing.

    "The Natural" wasn't about baseball. It was one man's journey to redemption. Baseball was the vehicle. Baseball provided the dramatic moments.

    In the final play where Roy Hobbs intends to hit a home run, does the camera pan out and show us the game? Of course not. The film is about Hobbs. It zooms in on him and the highlights his gesture to indicate he'll hit the home run.

    Stop trying to write a cricket story. Stop trying to make a film that makes cricket look good.cricket . The camera angles are too wide. Forget the game. Show us the snarling fast bowler and the battered but defiant batsman.

    Good stories are about people.

  • GeorgeWBush on October 3, 2013, 1:04 GMT

    Interesting article, Ed.

    I suspect it is simply the slow ebb and flow of cricket that is hard to dramatise. I think you make a pertinent point that any movie would need a backdrop of some much bigger social change. The article reminded me of a fabulous book that I read a few years back by Ramachandra Guha called 'A corner of a foreign field" which charts the history of indian cricket with particular emphasis on the role cricket had in giving indians a way to counter their imperial masters during the days of the british empire. The life of Palwankar Baloo would make a fascinating movie for the cricket fan to enjoy.

  • GrindAR on October 3, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    No film on soccer too.. If they are popular in USA, they make a film on it

  • on October 3, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Lagaan. An absolute classic.

  • LillianThomson on October 3, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    The definitive cricket movie already exists.

    "Tangiwai, A Love Story" is the definitive thing. A movie about the rail disaster in which Bob Blair's fiancée was killed while he played a a Test in South Africa against the deadly pace of Neil Adcock.

    There wasn't a dry eye in the ground when it really happened, and the movie has the same effect. Unbelievably moving.

  • Chris_Howard on October 3, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    Fascinating because watching the Ashes this year I felt it was just like a heavyweight boxing match.

    Test cricket is brutal when played between two desperate, never say die combatants. Within that, you have the further brutal battle between paceman and batsman

    If filmed correctly for a movie, the brutality of Test cricket would leave audiences gasping. Especially US who think it's a sedate Sunday afternoon game.

    Baseball is as boring as hell if you stop and look at it. So, film makers just show the good bits. Cricket film makers seem to want to show the whole game.

    Good sports films are not about the sport. They are about the person. Sport jsut provides the dramatic moments. The failures; the successes.

    Some, like Benchwarmers and Mr 3000, the protagonist doesn't even reach their goal

    So, write your story around the player and his battle to overcome off the field and how that affects his onfield. Then he finally finds resolution with the crucial wicket, run, catch, run out etc.

  • on October 3, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    How could no one even mention FIRE IN BABYLON....if you haven't seen it yet...please do it's about the great west indies team of the 80s..written by an Englishman !!

  • on October 2, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    Is cricket really a sport that can be reduced or condensed to film format? I don't think so - just a glorified highlights package.

  • on October 2, 2013, 22:51 GMT

    Erm - Fire in Babylon?! Anyone else miss that?!!!

  • on October 2, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    I think cricket suffers because there are few top players and players faces are well known. So focus on the lower levels could be more successful. Some of the best sporting movies focus on the less well known, such as Hoosiers, a great basketball movie or Bend it like Beckham.

    At top level....

    Sir Frank Worrall's story culminating in the 1960-61 Test series in Australia could make an engaging moving, or maybe Basil D'Oliveira. Maybe along the lines of Invictus.

    A story about one of the early English test cricket tours of Australia along the lines of the gridiron movie Leatherheads. Focus on an early professional cricketers.

    Sri Lanka's World Cup victory makes a good story, along the lines of Das Wunder von Bern, or other team victory movie.

    Also the baseball biography Cobb uses flashbacks to tell the story of a controversial player...how about Sydney Barnes.

    And finally the fall from grace of Hanse Cronje?

  • on October 2, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    I think the tied test in 1986 would make a fine film. Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Bob Simpson, Allan Border, Greg Matthews... what a cast of characters. Two sides out to prove themselves no matter what..

  • on October 2, 2013, 21:14 GMT

    WATCH "out of the ashes" yet. very nice docu on Afgan cricket.

  • northumbriannomad on October 2, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    It's not about "top-flight" cricket, but Wondrous Oblivion (2003) is a brilliant, underrated film about a cricket-loving boy in 1950s England, and his friendship with likewise cricket-loving West Indian neighbours. It's a brilliant exploration of racism and acceptance in a rapidly changing society, and the power of cricket to bring people together.

  • on October 2, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    The basic difference between the other sports you mentioned and cricket is very simple. All the other sports are popular in America where most of the movies are made, yes other countries have their own film industries but to b e a mainstream movie it has to be a Hollywood film.

    A few movies have been made in Hindi involving cricket, besides Lagaan I think there was a couple on match fixing as well but due to the language barrier they could only be commercially viable for the Indian and maybe Pakistani audience.

    I guess until cricket becomes popular in the U.S, the chances of an oscar winning performance from a movie about cricket is slim to none.

  • inswing on October 2, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    Kaipo Che is a nicely made film intertwining the rise of street cricketer with real events of sectarian violence and natural disasters. Sensitive subjects dealt with masterfully. Excellent acting by new mostly unknown actors. A number of big names declined a role in this movie due to its focus on Hindu-Muslim relationship and rioting.

  • on October 2, 2013, 20:09 GMT

    There is a novel titled Cricket by K L Mohana Varma in Malayalam the language of Kerala, a state in India. The novel is about a one day international match (50 over match not T20) between India and Pakistan. English translation of teh book is available in Amazone. In fact, Mohana Varma has written another novel titled Goal before writing Cricket, in which both cricket and football are figuring in.

  • pussatina on October 2, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    I have a dvd of the Final Test & it is all about father son relationships, ageing , letting go etc. Plus it has a cast of England Test greats in supporting roles. Surprised it wasn't mentioned by Ed.

  • nafzak on October 2, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    I thought Fire In babylon was a great documentary. Okay, so it wa s not a movie, but Baseball, Football (both kinds), Boxing, etc., are played and completed on same day 1-3 hrs. Test cricket is a 5 day affair. So, it must be told differently. maybe one day when T/20 has established rivalry like Eng/Aus, they will make a great 90 minute or 2 hr movie about it. Cricket is my favourite sport/game and personally I like it that Cricket is different than other sports and we do not need fake noise pumped into the stadium (baseball) or Cheerleeders (American football) to make it seem interesting. The Cricket is what it is. What you see is what you get. Nothing in sports beats a real fast bowler bowling to an opening batsman. So, I am a prejudiced cricket fan. It is what it is. Don't neen no movie to excite me about cricket.

  • abhiyog on October 2, 2013, 19:49 GMT

    'Chennai- 28' a tamil movie based on tennis ball cricket tournaments played all over India was a good one......

  • on October 2, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    A good film, full of emotion and drama, can be made on 1st Asian Test Championship between India and Pakistan at Eden Gardens in 1999. That was controversial. And the events leading to that match, the hard fought Chennai Test, which Pakistan won despite heroic effort from Tendulkar and the Delhi Test which saw Kumble matching Jim Laker, on a pitch which was dug up sometime back by a political party. These three matches would give a lot of people about the feel of rivalry between these two nations and refresh their memory. For people who don't know about these or have only heard, will be a great historical information.

  • thefountain on October 2, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    Very good question! I think generally because outside of the actual game there isn't much material to go off. Look how many great boxing movies there are. From Rocky to The Fighter to Raging Bull, they are movies are people who are down and out who make it to the top and then some are compromised. Cricket doesn't have that narrative.

    Even Golf has it's Tin Cup and Caddyshack. If cricket is to be a movie, it would have to be a comedy.

    How about this pitch. The Aussie and Nz teams just after the underarm incident go play a promotional match in the Pacific, their plane crashes and a Lord of the Flies situation ensues.

  • on October 2, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    Ed, indeed you have highlighted a nice article here. For those who have quoted Ed has not done his homework before he wrote this article, then you guys have mistaken it. Look at other sports movies and realise the essence of sports they showed in it an and they have projected (example Rush movie) with your real life. There is no point of discussing bollywood movies (except Lagaan) which has just a part of cricket and then probably romance, love etc etc.

    Watch movies such as Rush and other sports movie and then we will realise there are no such movies that gives a thought about why we should have that sports..and what it gives to the real life.

  • Mittaraghava on October 2, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    The movie made on bodyline series was the best cricket movie ever to be made.The movie was made so dramatically that people who did not have much knowledge of cricket also enjoyed it.

  • Knickster on October 2, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    They should make an Animated story of a Ball. Ball flying through the air at 90 mph or spinning left to right, swinging to miss the bat. Romantic story line can come from bowler kissing the ball after the take wicket. Climax of the movie would be when the ball is hit for a Six. We have all seen or heard of the animated movie called Cars think of now Balls. the Ball fast flying object hard at work in getting the bowler wickets, its evil nemesis would be the Bat ready to hit it out of the park.I can go but will leave the rest to your imagination.

  • Arun14 on October 2, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    It's very apt that you should ask what we are waiting for on Oct 2 .We need a Richard Attenborough to bring this to life.

  • gsingh7 on October 2, 2013, 17:37 GMT

    lagaan was epic cricket movie. though not type of modern cricket film but was epic in the ending

  • on October 2, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    What about making a movie on Penguins Stop Play. A great read that could make a great comedy movie I think. Afghanistan had that documentary over the last couple of years. I sure if the Yanks wanted to the could create a film on it. Though I think it needs to be a film made in the UK. A cricket version of Mean Machine could be good.

  • macadamnut on October 2, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Wondrous Oblivion was a cute film.

  • dejfrith on October 2, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    I should add that in that 15-year period West Indies bowlers sent 40 - forty! - opposing batsmen to hospital.

  • on October 2, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    Howzat! The Kerry Packer story was an excellent TV drama with cricket at its centre. Revealed a lot about the players, the era and the controversy. I would recommend it to any cricket fan!

  • dejfrith on October 2, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    The problem with Fire in Babylon is that it glorifies a West Indies bowling attack that was brutal (five or six bouncers per over) and also boring (12 overs an hour), with no spin bowling to speak of and no front-foot strokes possible to batsmen. Perhaps only those who lived through those 15 years and watched those Tests in several areas know the truth of it. Victory, especially when there is a feeling of payback, is very satisfying. Entertainment for all? Not a bit of it. Individually those West Indies fast bowlers were magnificent. As a "pack" they came close to killing cricket.

  • FourSomeFearSome on October 2, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    Some Films on cricket are made in hindi, such as Awwal Number, Malaamal and Lagaan, victory, Hattrick .. There are a few more but I can not remember them right now.. so Ed, you might want to do some homework and include these movies into your article... good article though...

  • on October 2, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    patiala house was also a cricket related movie

  • shukla_prasad9489 on October 2, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    Ed smith doesnt watch bollywood movies i guess... there are no. of movies which are worth watching and many more for the sake of wasting of time....

  • on October 2, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    Patiala House. An English-born Indian boy dreams to play in the English national team as a bowler while the dad oppose being of old values. Akshay Kumar and Rishi Kapoor.

  • on October 2, 2013, 15:30 GMT

    The bottomline for all movies is "is there an audience for it." The box office failure of "Save Your Legs" showed that Aust audiences are not drawn to cricket movies, and since Aust is probably the most cricket crazy of all the english speaking countries, i doubt other english speaking cricketing countries would be any different. As Smith pointed out India properly has the strongest chance of creating a cricket movie that succeeds. However unless they could make a Slumdog Millionaire type movie (movie set in India with western sensibilities) than the film would have to be aimed squarely at Indian audiences in every respect. The large domestic audience there could make it profitable. Until then every cricket fan needs to watch the documentary Fire in Babylon - twice as good as most feature films out there!

  • on October 2, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    "Save your Legs" australian movie

  • on October 2, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    I guess author don't know about Iqbal. It was pretty outstanding film. It was a big hit and really well made movie. Ed smith look for Iqbal.

  • Criketanand on October 2, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    Movie called Iqbal , very simple and lovely movie about cricket. Poor guy from village playing cricket..

  • on October 2, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    Fire in Babylon? That was a pretty outstanding documentary...

  • ahmadfuad on October 2, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    Pakistani movie "Main Hoon Shahid Afridi" is the best of all times and it talks in detail about the struggling cricketers from the poor families and a patriot coach who wants to do well for his country.

  • on October 2, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    Fire in Babylon (its a documentary film on Windies Cricket) .....great watch

  • cricketpurist on October 2, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    Lagaan, iqbal, cricket cameo in malamal and chamatkar is what I remember.There is a kannada movie called sixer too

  • heathrf1974 on October 2, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    The best sport films are baseball. And I don't even care for baseball.

  • saif_sha on October 2, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    Even Hockey has a great flick 'Chak De India'. Why not cricket

  • guilo on October 2, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    Has anyone here seen Wondrous Oblivion? It is probably the most complete cricketing movie I've seen.

  • on October 2, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Does the 1-minute scene of playing cricket indoors in "Chariots of Fire" count?

  • landl47 on October 2, 2013, 13:11 GMT

    I'll make a prediction- the first major cricket film (as opposed to those in which cricket is a setting for the film) will come out of India and its subject will be M.S. Dhoni. It probably won't get a general release in the USA, but it will make a ton of money in India.

    Otherwise, I agree with others that the main problem with having actors play cricketers is that they can't make the technique look realistic. Incidentally, think back on baseball films- you won't find any pitchers played by actors, for the same reason. Every fictional baseball movie has the actors batting, not pitching. Anyone can learn to swing a bat and then leave the rest to camera tricks. Pitching just can't be made to look realistic, since no-one can fake throwing a 90mph fastball. Cricket is even more challenging, since batting is more difficult to fake than hitting in baseball. However, take heart; now we have T20, being technically correct has gone out of the window. Wild slogging is easy to fake.

  • on October 2, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Awwal number was one movie which deserve a name in the list of good movies made on Cricket.

  • on October 2, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    Does anybody remember Lagaan? One of Aamir Khan's most memorable movies, combined India's two great passions -- Bollywood and cricket!

  • on October 2, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Wouldn't the story of the Ashes be perfect for a movie! English beaten sensationally by Australian underdogs - a love story between Ivo Bligh and Florence Morphy - a nation discovering itself. Who's going to write it?

  • on October 2, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    I personally liked. "Fire in Babylon" a lot. It was a fantastic movie summarizing the great West Indies team of the 1970s and 80s. But it was rather a documentary than a usual commercial movie. I would love to see a contemporary mainstream movie made about cricket or a player in particular. Cricket has many legends!

  • on October 2, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    "Fire in Babylon" was great. There have been some good Hindi movies today notably Iqbal and Lagaan. Particularly recommend Ed Smith to see Lagaan. I think he will find it has all the elements of a "masala" film

  • o-bomb on October 2, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    Despite not having read the article, Harmony111 makes a good point here. If you're not a cricketer it is difficult to look like one. In "The Crying Game" there are a few flashbacks of Forest Whitaker bowling. He quite clearly knows what he's doing, but his arm doesn't come over straight and he doesn't look like a bowler. If you're teaching an actor without any cricketing ability to be a cricketer for a film I'd imagine they'd probably need some proper cricket training to even look club standard. To look proffesional would take more work than most directors would be willing to put in, hence you are limited to a pool of actors who can already play, and that's assuming the director fully understands the game himself.

  • on October 2, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    Ed, hasn't Shehan Karunatilaka's wonderful Chinaman crossed your path yet? It's a cricket lovers' cricket novel. I could see it as a TV series, not enough drama to turn into a film.

  • Asbah on October 2, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    What about 'Fire in Babylon'? That should count!

  • zoot364 on October 2, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    "Good and Bad at Games" was an excellent TV film on Channel 4, around 1983 not long after the channel began. Had a big cricket theme and the plot culminated at a match. Sport in general is pretty under represented in UK drama/films - there are examples from spots other than cricket but very few when you think how ever present sport is in UK media and society.

  • bobbysimpson on October 2, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    The whole article is thrown into ridicule by the lack of mention of Fire in Babylon, a documentary that is amazing for cricket fans and non-fans alike.

  • CricketPissek on October 2, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Saad Amjad - Fire in Babylon is a documentary! How is that relevant?

  • on October 2, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    Your closing statement, "What more could an aspiring Oscar-winner want for material?" is ironic considering cricket played a bit role in 2008's Best Picture winner "Slumdog Millionaire" (a particularly weak year for contenders, imho)

    Also, to Rob Steen who mentioned the use of cricket bats as weapons in "The Big Lebowski", don't forget they were used with the same effect in "Shaun Of The Dead" (and promptly displayed on the posters, dvd etc.)

  • siddharth_ on October 2, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    IQBAL is a great movie...a must watch for a cricket enthusiast.It tells the story of a deaf and mute boy who goes onto play for india.

  • CricketPissek on October 2, 2013, 11:22 GMT

    Dear suhasgrao - please read the article properly before commenting! "It is true that charming films (such as Lagaan) have used amateur cricket as a recurrent motif." I think World Series Cricket or the rise of Indian influence on the ICC - culminating in the IPL could work well. The other alternative is, a film adaptation of that fantastic book "Chinaman". You can't get all the beautiful subtleties into a movie, but there's scope there for sure.

  • Harmony111 on October 2, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    I am making this comment without reading the full article and other comments so kindly ignore any irrelevance.

    IMO cricket is a much more difficult game to be depicted on screen. Games like soccer or moto racing are much more action packed and of a shorter duration. They can also be compressed into shorter capsules without any major loss in understanding as long as the goals or major hits are shown. Cricket esp Test Cricket on the other hand is more of an old world sport set in an idyllic background. An event such as a dropped catch or a not-out can have as much effect on the game as a wrong out. Such things are not always easy to show or explain on screen.

    You can't fake being a batsman or a bowler. For a soccer movie all you need is to run and tackle a bit. For an auto-race movie you just need to be shown as pressing the gas pedal or furiously changing gears. Cricket requires more finesse.

    Btw, Lagaan-2000 is a fab cricket centric movie. Iqbal-2005 is a terrific movie too.

  • brainbox on October 2, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    'out of the ashes' is a fantastic book and movie about the rise and rise of Afghanistan cricket.

  • on October 2, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    i cant beleive the writet has just ignored fire in babylon. and also they could make a movie on south africa when they were banned from international cricket, or if pakistan ever wins a world cup. it would make a good story after not having any cricket in pakistan.

  • MaverickWhite on October 2, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    A nice piece and an issue I've been pondering myself.

    "Fire in Babylon", as pointed out, did a great job as a documentary. Don't know how Ed missed that one. Also must add that Ed glorifying "Friday Night Lights" as better than "Any Given Sunday" was a laugh. Commenting on what Ed's Dad said about fictional characters undermining credibility, could this not be avoided by setting the main character among a world that is incredibly familiar? Perhaps write real life players as sub-characters?

    A fantastic set of books I read as a child was a series called "Glory Gardens" by an author named Bob Cattell. I see now he has updated the series, wrote another and released a novel independent of both. He was able to avoid the character issue by taking it out of first-class cricket and into younger age club cricket.

    In South Africa, a film about Hansie Cronje was made. However, it was rubbish and incredibly bias. I'm sure there are many narratives to be found in the seedier aspects of the game.

  • brainbox on October 2, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    'out of the ashes' is a fantastic book and movie about the rise and rise of Afghanistan cricket.

  • Markdal on October 2, 2013, 11:01 GMT

    Certainly not about professional cricket, but the movie "Wondrous Oblivion", from 2003, was a very good movie about grass roots cricket.

  • PadMarley on October 2, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    Has anyone watched Hansie? Is it any good. Fire in Babylon was a awesome piece of work, though its a documentary. Could be converted in to a movie too. Sri Lankan world cup journey and Pakistan 92 victory could be good story lines though the 1 billion nation might not enjoy the story line. If you wanna make money, perhaps make a movie about Sachin. Lagaan was too much of over actiing! Why not Kind Viv? that could be a good one too.. So far my favourite sports movie is Invictus!

  • Murnau on October 2, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Football hasn't been successfully portrayed on screen.

    Bit surprised the author hasn't seen sport films before the 80s. There are many great films going back to the beginning of cinema. I'd nominate the Hustler as the best sport film. In more recent times, the Aussie rules film, the Club is worth a mention.

    Boxing and cinema is a good fit. But on screen, the rules of the game can seem a little absurd. I think most of the baseball films are a little overrated. They work a bit because the sport is alien to most non Americans, and because otherwise they get by on sentimentality. Bull Durham is hardly about baseball at all.

    Regarding cricket, the standard sport story of triumph over adversity maybe isn't all that satisfying for modern audiences, unless wrapped up in in the national flag, like Chariots of Fire. But something similar to the pool hall tragedy of the Hustler could be done, where the sport is more incidental. Then you have to ask yourself, is your sport ripe for symbolism?

  • RogerC on October 2, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    Iqbal is a very good cricket movie. The story of a cricketer who failed to achieve success himself and how he compensates it by making his trainee achieve greatness.

  • DaisonGarvasis on October 2, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    well, think of Praveen Tambe's CL show. Movie stuff???? I thought so...

  • pietime on October 2, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    There is a fun English movie called "Wondrous Oblivion" 2003. In the same style as the movie"About a Boy". The movie is about a young Jewish immigrant boy living in London in the 60s. A West Indian family move in next door and build some nets out the backyard. The boy loves cricket but is quite uncoordinated. The West Indian father decides to train the boy. He trains him in back and forward defensive shots and attacking shots. There is even a scene at lords with original old footage of a test between West Indies and England. No more said check this cracking movie out.

  • JohnnyRook on October 2, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    I think you have summed it up most reasons really well. One reason which you didn't mention is that cricket is not played in USA much. Since it is the biggest market of movies, I don't think production houses in cricket playing nations would want to invest too much in a cricket based movie.

    Personally I think Basil D'Olivera affair and South Africa's resulting alienation bcoz of apartheid can be a fantastic script for a movie. The reason is as you mentiond, sports movies are generally not based only on sports. There has to be a bigger picture it ties into. e.g. 42 or Invictus.

  • on October 2, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Tangiwai disaster is a great movie about cricket.

  • taimoorkhalid on October 2, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Iqbal was a cricket film which is worth a watch .. it is wholly based on cricket and it shows the low level and high level politics, parents pressure, god father, natural talent almost gone to waste, a true picture of the cricket which people of subcontinent go through, to becoming a cricketer. But you are rite that there are not many films made on this subject, and there is not a single classic movie about cricket. Iqbal is a good movie, but you cannot call it a classic by any means. Its also maybe that cricket is a complex game with a lot of complexities, which other sports don't have.

  • on October 2, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Fire in Babylon !! An Epic piece of documentary on cricket. It makes for a compelling viewing and tells the story abt the fight of some from the carribean islands. Its also a must see for all young generation cricket afficionados to understand what it was like facing the likes of Dennis Lille, Geoff Thompson, Malcolm Marshall, Andy roberts , Michael Holding. It was cricket at its brutal best and makes me realize the batting legends of those times, most notably Sunil Gavaskar .

  • DaisonGarvasis on October 2, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Well, to start with I don't agree with Ed when he say stories in Cricket can be dramatized or interesting. You can make a movie each out most of the internationally known players. Think about Dhoni's life, think how Ganguly revolutionized Team India, think how Michael Vaughn stood tall against the Ausee in that one series, think of Shane Warne, Lara, well think ok Vinod Kambi for starters. Think about the Ausee Team during the 1990's and 2000's. These are all interesting Movie stuff. Last year former India Opener Aakash Chopra wrote the book "out of the blue" on how a small team of no superstars won the Ranji Trophy; that can be a movie. And if you think you can't bring tension and drama in with Cricket Movies, go back watch Lagaan. Or ask any TV Advert makers. It's just that, though a movie on cricket may be appealing to cricket playing countries, it makes no sense to the rest of the global audiences, so movie makers don't wanna bother.

  • on October 2, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    While there haven't been many quality feature films on cricket, there have been a few documentaries. 'Fire in Babylon', about the rise of the wordl-beating West Indies side of the 80s remains one of my favourite sports films ever. It truly captures the essence of Caribbean cricket and it is hair-raising to say the least. Also, there was an Australian min-series called 'Bodyline'. It wasn't ground-breaking and had a few factual errors (artistic license?) but it was a commendable attempt. Also, it starred a young Hugo Weavig as Jardine. Weaving later starred in movies like the Matrix, Lord of the Rings, etc.

  • on October 2, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Mr Smith left out the recent "Kerry Packer's War".

  • silly_mid_on on October 2, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Hugh Jackmann and Russell Crowe are talented cricketers. They should put their heads (and money) together and come up with a movie, maybe based on the 1880 birth of the Ashes.

  • will86 on October 2, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    1970's The Go-Between adaptation starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates has a decent attempt at portraying a village cricket match in Edwardian Norfolk. Probably the fact that the screenplay was written by Harold Pinter has something to do with it!

  • NIKSTERROR on October 2, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    Indian movie "Iqbal". The story follows a cricket-obsessed deaf and mute boy from a remote Indian village as he aims to overcome his difficulties and become a cricketer and fulfil his dream of playing for the Indian national cricket team. This is a different story from every other indian cricket movie where indian hero requires to hit six off last ball . This is a story about a boy who has indian bowlers as his idols , very good national award winning movie with great songs.

  • on October 2, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Three words - Fire in Babylon

  • on October 2, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    You could always watch Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) playing Douglas Jardine with incredible creepiness in the 1984 mini series Bodyline

  • on October 2, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Havent we had enough of Indian cricket!!

  • dejfrith on October 2, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    The classic English cricket film remains The Final Test, directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Jack Warner and Robert Morley, and released in the early 1950s. Test players Len Hutton, Denis Compton, Cyril Washbrook, Alec Bedser and Godfrey Evans had walk-on parts. John Arlott's voice was heard on radio commentary. The drama centred on veteran Warner's final Test appearance, at The Oval. The film was released on video some years ago, and is a perfect reflection of cricket and life in that long-lost age.

  • bingoe67 on October 2, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    A pretty good tv movie was made in New Zealand about 3 years ago revolving around New Zealands 1953 tour of South Africa and the Tangiwai Rail disaster. NZ fast bowler Bob Blair lost his fiance in the rail disaster. Ian O'Brien got to play South African fast bowler Neil Adcock.

  • on October 2, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Chinaman would be a defineite contender for classic Cricket novel and probably how eleven underdog's cricketers from unknown land shake the world cricket during 96 would be cracker plot for classic film. How tiny little land change the landscape of world cricket with aggressive hitting...

  • Riflethebowler on October 2, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Has nobody else seen the film of Terence Ratigan's drama 'The Final Test' starring Jack Warner and a host of cricketing luminaries such as Messrs Hutton , Laker , Compton etc but primarily the brilliant Robert Morley....It is a beautiful film and one can entertain oneself for hours imagining which of the current crop would volunteer to play themselves ...Surely KP as the grumpy old head , Finn as an almost 'Don't tell him Pike' innocent, Swann and Anderson as the practical jokers etc etc ...get it on Amazon and enjoy !....

  • suhasgrao on October 2, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Dear Author, Kindly watch the Indian Hindi film titled "Lagaan"., Its a film from the pre-independence India , and how the rulers forced local people to play cricket match to avoid triple - taxes ., fascinating i tell ya !!

  • J751 on October 2, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Baseball movies have I enjoyed include Pride of the Yankees,The Natural and Field of Dreams.Also, the comedies Tin Cup and Happy Gilmore on the subject of Golf.On boxing Ali,Raging Bull and Cinderella Man.I think biopics of cricket stars like Imran Khan can be quite dramatic.The Pakistani film industry,which is trying to revive itself has recently produced a movie called "Main Hoon Shahid Afridi" which has been well received.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on October 2, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    I'd pay to see The Shane Warne Story ....would have to find someone who looks like Shane Warne though. Difficult as even Shane Warne doesn't these days

  • shingalaya on October 2, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    You must be joking. Fire In Babylon, Ed!

  • Hasanga on October 2, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    There are two great cricket stories from Sri Lanka, if written properly could be oscar material... The story of Murali and also the story of how Sri Lanka won the 96 world cup as an underdog cricketing nation under Arjuna's captaincy. Murali's story is an absolute winner for a movie. Also with the 96 world cup story, a decent script can be written with Arjuna as the main Character.

    If ithey are to apeal to the worldwide audience, they should be in English, bu unfortunately so far, the Sri Lankan cinema's attempts at making english movies using local actors had been quite embarrasing! 'Common man' perefect example....it's unwatchable!!

  • awesomeadil on October 2, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Kabhi Ajnabi The, starring Sandeep Patil and Syed Kirmani Allrounder, starring Kumar Gaurav Wondrous Oblivion starring Delroy Lindo Iqbal, Starring Shreyas Talpade and Nasseruddin Shah

  • MaxG on October 2, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Completely agree someone should make a film about Indian cricket. Maybe a book could be written about it, Ed Smith is a good enough writer.

  • MaxG on October 2, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Fire in Babylon was a very good documentary. It explored a bit about society in the West Indies by following their team. It all made for a very interesting film.

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    the Australians made a TV film about Bodyline. Hugo Weaving played Jardine in a manner that made his performances in The Matrix and Lord of the Ring seem subdued.

  • Gazzaman on October 2, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    "Tangiwai" was a 2011 New Zealand movie about Bob Blair that is well worth watching. His fiance was tragically killed in a train disaster while he was playing a test match in South Africa.

  • mcsdl on October 2, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    The writer of this article is looking for a film which also based on a true Cricket story line - preferably in English. Don't think that exist at this stage. There are some reasons for this. 1. Cricket is not as popular in America/ Hollywood 2. Bollywood movies adds their own style of fantasies (singing & dancing) to a movie. Just imagine Sachin Tendulkar's character dancing around a tree chasing a girl while singing his love to her..haha...! 3. Most other cricket countries do not have a powerful film industry........ 4. So if there to be a famous Cricket film it has to come from a British film director. But then again England have not produced legendary Cricketing figures and if there to be a film it will always be about "Ashes" for them and nothing else...! So as a general assumption I could failry say there wont be a blockbustor style Cricket Film atleast in the near future...!

  • Bundaboy on October 2, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    Gawd a Bollywood cricket movie - that's all we need!

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    The Australian TV mini-series on Kerry Packer, Howzzat, was quite cinematic too

  • Nutcutlet on October 2, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    Cricket is a highly complex game with arcane sets of laws & rules; it's not therefore easily understood by anyone who has not, to some extent, studied what it's all meant to be about. It is neither susceptible to a quick & handy explanation, even for intelligent people (as anyone who's read the 'helpful' introduction to the US edition of Beyond a Boundary would agree!), nor is it especially dramatic to the outsider, unless the batsman's reeling away after being hit by a bodyline delivery, à la Oldfield at Adelaide.Thus cricket, per se, cannot have mass appeal to a cinema audiences round the world. Personal tensions, ego-clashes between alpha-male characters & ruthless ambition driven by perceived injustices & social slights - now that's the stuff of mass-appeal drama! Cricket has (& has had) its full quota of these & so long as there's no enacted cricket attempted on screen here's fine docu-drama stuff. And the current England XI carries just such a one-man drama around within it: KP.

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    Watch it, Sir! Didn't you watch the 3.5-hour-drivel called 'Lagaan' from India? We even sent it to Oscar. Then we came up with something called 'Dil Bole Hadippa'. These two are absolutely priceless all time Great movies. Its your fault if you are not going to take interest in Bollywood.

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    People forgetting Iqbal. A Deaf n Mute Bowler realising his dream of playing Cricket.

  • TheProfPak on October 2, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    There can be a film on how powerful cricket boards use their powers unfairly. First it was CA and ECB and now BCCI. Also, Pakistani cricket can be looked for a lot of film material. Rift between team itself, scandals, etc. etc. Or there could be a film on cricket legends like Bradman, Lara, Sachin, etc. More ideas .... may be we common cricket lover can float some workable idea for a great cricket film :).

  • sifter132 on October 2, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    The tele-movie Channel Nine did last year was pretty good - more focused on Packer than the cricket, it must be said...but that's what needs to happen to get cricket on the big screen. Focus on the story behind the game. It got heaps of viewers because the story of World Series Cricket was compelling, not so much because of the cricket action itself.

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    There is a hilarious comedy film about Gully Cricket - Chennai 600028.

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    It's true that there isn't a huge list of films that have been made about cricket, but it's worth noting last year's "Howzat! Kerry Packer's War" which, like Bodyline, was actually an Australian TV miniseries

  • richardghwebber on October 2, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    What about The Final Test (1954), starring Jack Warner, Robert Morley and amongst others, John Arlott, Alec Bedser, Godfrey Evans and Jim Laker? Hesitate to describe it as a "great", admittedly... Fire In Babylon is way better.

  • on October 2, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    A very tempting topic for making a Cricket movie could be on the Rise and Fall of Lalit Modi, maybe it can be made in the style of THE SOCIAL NETWORK

    Match fixing scandal of the 1990s also offers an interesting backdrop. A well researched movie would be a treat

  • on October 2, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    One must not forgot Awwal number starring Amir khan and the legendary Dev Anand released in 1990

  • Mux001 on October 2, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    Fire in Babylon: Fire in Babylon is a 2010 British documentary film about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s. Excellent show! Not just about circket but about life back then!

    Anyway i dont think one doc or film can capture the stories of cricket. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes which need to be shown. Maybe a doc for each cricket hero or cricket era (when Oz dominated) could work.

    on my side, we should have a doc called the Chokers! Why we South Africans just dont have that BMT.

  • on October 2, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    There is a great documentary on the history of West Indies cricket team - Fire in Babylon.

  • on October 2, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    a month back a Pakistani movie : Hoon Shahid Afridi (I am Shahid Afridi) was released

  • on October 2, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Lagaan..!!!

  • on October 2, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Lagaan..!!!

  • on October 2, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    a month back a Pakistani movie : Hoon Shahid Afridi (I am Shahid Afridi) was released

  • on October 2, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    There is a great documentary on the history of West Indies cricket team - Fire in Babylon.

  • Mux001 on October 2, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    Fire in Babylon: Fire in Babylon is a 2010 British documentary film about the record-breaking West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and 1980s. Excellent show! Not just about circket but about life back then!

    Anyway i dont think one doc or film can capture the stories of cricket. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes which need to be shown. Maybe a doc for each cricket hero or cricket era (when Oz dominated) could work.

    on my side, we should have a doc called the Chokers! Why we South Africans just dont have that BMT.

  • on October 2, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    One must not forgot Awwal number starring Amir khan and the legendary Dev Anand released in 1990

  • on October 2, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    A very tempting topic for making a Cricket movie could be on the Rise and Fall of Lalit Modi, maybe it can be made in the style of THE SOCIAL NETWORK

    Match fixing scandal of the 1990s also offers an interesting backdrop. A well researched movie would be a treat

  • richardghwebber on October 2, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    What about The Final Test (1954), starring Jack Warner, Robert Morley and amongst others, John Arlott, Alec Bedser, Godfrey Evans and Jim Laker? Hesitate to describe it as a "great", admittedly... Fire In Babylon is way better.

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    It's true that there isn't a huge list of films that have been made about cricket, but it's worth noting last year's "Howzat! Kerry Packer's War" which, like Bodyline, was actually an Australian TV miniseries

  • on October 2, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    There is a hilarious comedy film about Gully Cricket - Chennai 600028.

  • sifter132 on October 2, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    The tele-movie Channel Nine did last year was pretty good - more focused on Packer than the cricket, it must be said...but that's what needs to happen to get cricket on the big screen. Focus on the story behind the game. It got heaps of viewers because the story of World Series Cricket was compelling, not so much because of the cricket action itself.