20 August, 2012

Fire in Babylon (Documentary)

It might not be part of the Olympics, but Cricket has long been a world sport that is followed by many and its players treated as sporting Gods. What football is to most of Europe, cricket it to the Caribbean.

Fire in Babylon looks at the rise of cricket in the Caribbean as the West Indian team catapults itself from being called "calypso cricketers" (a term referring to the team as one who puts up a great entertaining show but never wins) to world champions.

The West Indians believe that cricket is in their blood. From the time they gained independence from the "empire", mostly from mid 1960s onwards, cricket has been a "God given gift" for the locals. It has been the perfect tool to "defeat racism by defeating it on the field of play, by truly making the cricket field a level playing field". Cricket has also been a unifier for the different island nations and has proved to be a strong and passionate bond between them.

Up until 1975, the West Indies (cricket team) was never taken seriously. The team lacked a true leader and motivation to move up in the cricketing world. Their defeat by Australia in 1975 was the spark that set in motion a change that would make them world champions for almost two decades.

Under the leadership of Clive Lloyd the team came together and utilized their physical strengths to perfect a bowling attack, which comprised mainly of bouncers that sent shivers down the spines of most batsmen. Just like Lillee and Thompson had dominated the Australian fast-bowling attack in 1975, West Indies produced their own champion fast bowlers that were supported by batsmen like Lloyd and Vivian Richards.

While the documentary only presents the viewpoint of the West Indians, it does bring to light the racism that took place at the time and how cricket was used by most West Indian players as a way to release the anger against the racial treatment they received.

Fire in Babylon presents itself colorfully by interviewing players in their natural form. It uses regional music, like Reggae, to showcase the passion the islands have towards two of their most famous exports, music and cricket. In fact the bond between cricket and music for the West Indies is a very strong one with players like Vivian Richards being greatly influenced by musicians like Bob Marley. The documentary also focuses on the impact that racism had on the world, and how sports and the success of the West Indies team had an effect on the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Fire in Babylon is a documentary about sports and sportsmanship. It is about the individuals who went against the establishment to stand for their rights to get the pay/salary they rightly deserved. It is about courage and power and most importantly about standing up for your beliefs.

While the film will be admired by most, I do feel that it will appeal to people who have at least some knowledge about cricket. You need not know the history of the sport, as a basic knowledge would suffice.    
Fire in Babylon is HIGLY RECOMMENDED!


  1. What a delightful blog you have and a refreshing article about the gentlemen in the cricketing world - the West Indians. You have me hooked

  2. I have been meaning to see this for quite some time now. Off course, I never saw them in action but even reading those 11 names in team sends shivers down my spine. Truly a great team. Thanks for reminding me. :)

    1. I know what you mean. I think they were all towards their cricketing end when I started watching the game. I do remember when they were one of the strongest teams in the world and specially their bowling attack was scary. It took me a while to get a hold of the DVD so try and look for it.

  3. I've been searching for this one for a while now. If you're in India, you can catch it this weekend at a PVR near you. They're releasing the film. I can't wait to watch and review :)

    1. Thanks for the update Hari. I picked up a DVD during my trip to UK. Cheers!