With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, social distancing and quarantine have become essential components of our lives. These unprecedented times have taken its toll on nearly every industry, and the sporting world is no exception.
With sports, including cricket, coming to a halt, there has been a huge void created for fans. While there might not be any live cricket to fall back on in these testing times, fans can always turn back to history to get their daily fix.
For those fans looking to find ways to pass the time at home, here are 10 cricket documentaries/shows that are a must-watch.
Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians
With sports documentaries becoming a huge hit on streaming platforms over the past couple of years, it was only a matter of time before the Indian Premier League (IPL) got in on the action.
The eight-part series on Netflix follows the Mumbai Indians franchise in the 2018 season as they look to defend the title they won in the previous edition. Showcasing the fan hysteria that surrounds the T20 franchise league, Cricket Fever does a decent job in giving a behind the scenes account of Mumbai Indians’ season.
While the narrative might not be as focused as the The Test, the show is a must watch for any fan who loves the IPL.
Death of a Gentleman
Directed and written in part by cricket journalist Jarrod Kimber, Death of a Gentleman is a riveting documentary which was released in 2016.
It has a strong narrative which alleges how the ‘Big Three’ of India, England and Australia have colluded to take over the governance and finances of cricket.
Featuring interviews with then BCCI and ECB chiefs N Srinivasan and Giles Clarke respectively among others, the documentary asks some tough questions about where cricket is headed.
Gripping in its nature and explosive, the Death of a Gentleman is a must-watch for any fans who adore the Test format.
The Test: A New Era for Australia
The latest cricketing show to hit the internet, The Test takes you into the heart of Australia’s dressing room as they look to bounce back from the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’ in Cape Town.
The eight-part documentary picks up from the aftermath of the Cape Town saga, which saw Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft cop one-year suspensions. It details how the Australian team rebuilt its team culture under new coach Justin Langer and Test skipper Tim Paine.
Unprecedented access to dressing room interactions and strategy sessions from players and coaches is presented. It includes several key moments in their journey, including the Test series loss on home soil against India, the World Cup in England and the subsequent Ashes series.
The mini-series has been released in 200 countries around the globe on Amazon’s video streaming service – Prime.
Fire in Babylon
Fire in Babylon is essential viewing for any hardcore fans of the game. Based on the all-conquering West Indies teams of the 1970s and 1980s, the British documentary details the rise of the Caribbean outfit from a talented and entertaining outfit to one which broke all records lying in its path.
It features stock footage of that era along with interviews from several Windies greats including Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Michael Holding.
It describes how the team went on to earn the respect and admiration of cricket fans and rivals alike. With powerful personalities in that Windies side, this is one documentary which should not be missed.
If one wants to experience what the pressure of high-level sport is all about, look no further than The Edge. Based on England’s rise from a lowly position to the No1 Test ranking in 2013, the documentary explores the psychological strain the game puts on its participants, through the eyes of the players themselves.
Featuring unseen footage and interviews with England’s players and coaching staff, The Edge takes you through an emotional and visceral journey. The film has a comical approach at times as it charts the journey of a group of players under new head coach Andy Flower, while also highlighting the price of success.
England’s Test outfit was in shambles when Flower took over the reigns, with the Zimbabwe man ultimately turning them into a world-beating side who climbed to the top of the rankings.
Out of the Ashes
Afghanistan’s meteoric rise in cricket has been one of the most talked about stories of the game, and this documentary brings it to life.
With Oscar-winner Sam Mendes as executive producer, Out of the Ashes charts the remarkable journey of the Afghan cricket team over a two-year period which culminated in the most dramatic of qualifications for the 2010 T20I World Cup.
The feature-length documentary excellently depicts the story of how Afghanistan cricket rose from the background of war and poverty to break into the elite of cricket.
While Afghanistan’s cricketing exploits take centre-stage, the film is much more than just about sport. Watch it for the poignant characters in the Afghanistan cricket team and their starry-eyed expressions as they embark on their qualification journey in Jersey.
The infamous ‘Bodyline’ series between England and Australia in 1932-33 needs no introduction and is now firmly a part of cricketing folklore. This Australian mini-series dramatises the events of the tour which strained the diplomatic relations between England and Australia.
Bodyline, or the ‘fast leg theory’, was England’s answer to contain a prolific Australia batting unit helmed by Sir Don Bradman. While the hosts, led by Dougal Jardine, did manage to beat Australia by 4-1, the tactics used by England caused quite the storm.
The seven-episode series released in 1984 does a good job of recreating the infamous tour in a gripping manner.
KP: Story of a Genius
No England cricketer has divided opinions as sharply as Kevin Pietersen, despite the considerable success he achieved over the course of his playing career. While he is arguably one of the most talented batsmen to put on the England jersey, Pietersen was never far away from controversy.
Over the course of this five-part mini-series produced by Sky, a group of cricket experts, former players, coaches and Pietersen himself explore the personality and genius of the South Africa-born batsman.
Featuring the likes of Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss, Steve Harmison and Michael Vaughan among others, the documentary is a riveting watch for anyone who has followed the remarkable career of Pietersen.
The Ashes 2005: The Greatest Series
While England’s maiden World Cup title on home soil last year was clinched in dramatic fashion, it is still hard to match the drama that was created during their 2005 Ashes series against Australia.
In a series which is considered to be one of the greatest of all time, Michael Vaughan’s men claimed the Ashes urn by beating a No1 ranked Australian side in thrilling fashion.
This documentary produced by Channel 4 revisits that theatre which produced some truly epic Test cricket over the course of the five matches.
Featuring interviews with Vaughan, Pietersen and Shane Warne, along with some enthralling commentary by Richie Benaud and Geoffrey Boycott, this documentary is always a captivating watch.
Crossing the Line
When it comes to more recent cricket controversies, nothing comes close to ball-tampering saga which occurred during Australia’s 2018 tour of South Africa. An incident had major ramifications on Australian cricket as a whole and led to the subsequent suspensions of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
This 60-minute documentary produced by South African broadcaster SuperSport retraces the events that led to the infamous scandal which occurred during the third Test in Cape Town.
Featuring commentary from Graeme Smith, Shane Warne and Michael Holding along with interviews with South African players, the documentary is a compelling watch in every single aspect.
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