I’ve seen Death of a Gentleman, a documentary film taking the cricket world by storm.
I’ve not told too many people about it. I’ve not shouted from the rooftops that everyone must see it. I’ve not gone to see the makers and congratulated them for making something important. I’ve not signed the “Change Cricket” petition.
Why not? Because I can’t.
India, England and Australia now rule the cricket world; the big three. In a smash and grab, those three came together to take over, in essence, the governance and the major revenue share of the sport.
The smaller Test nations then backed the takeover after initially voting against it; it took threats and intimidation, join us, back us, back the changes, or go hungry. Tours were offered, or a lack of tours if you don’t sign. A tour, from these three teams, especially India, is where a cricket board makes the majority of its money from TV revenues sold.
Why can’t I talk about it? If I do so, there’ll be no more cricket for me.
No current players are talking about the movie (mostly because they can’t, they have all signed contracts with their boards that say they can’t say things that would bring issue to their board or sponsors) and also very, very few ex-players are publicly talking about the movie.
There are numerous ex-players in the broadcast industry, the ones with a voice that can be heard, who haven’t spoken about the many important issues the movie discusses and outlines.
If you talk about it, if you take a stance that opposes the BCCI, England and Australia, there’s a real scary thought you’ll not be seen or heard of again in the industry.
The movie hasn’t been released in India or Australia. It will be soon. Maybe.
Watching the IPL, the wonderful beast of the BCCI, you will never hear world cricket current events spoken about during commentary. When the Rajasthan fixing story was breaking, with Sreesanth being banned, was it spoken about on air? Nope. Everything just washed over.
Do you hear of Indian commentators talk about DRS? Well, actually, we did once. An ex-Indian cricketer, commentating after an Indian player got a bad decision, said that the BCCI should revise their decision to not have the DRS.
Almost instantly the commentator was off commentary, gone, removed. He had just started a stint, and wasn’t heard back on air for a couple of hours, after which he suddenly had changed his mind on DRS.
Commentators, in India, are employed by the BCCI. The BCCI pays the commentators. You work off their hymn sheet. If you talk against the BCCI you don’t work. You won’t work again. Commentators were told not to talk about the next Indian Test captain during a previous IPL. One did. He went home. He didn’t work again in that IPL.
In the UK, where Death of a Gentleman has been released in limited cinemas, the movie has been discussed numerous times on the BBC’s flagship radio commentary, Test Match Special. Even a 20-minute slot during a break in the Lord’s Test, against Australia, on the radio. But on TV, on Sky, it has been talked about for maybe two minutes.
Sky’s links to the ECB are tight. And with other TV channels now showing interest in showing live cricket, Sky, it would seem, are being careful to not cause a stir towards the ECB.
Here’s hoping that people talk, people shout, people ask questions, and especially the ones with voices, the ones with platforms.