Fire in Babylon (UK, 2010)

If you can't stand the heat...

This excellent documentary focuses upon the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies test cricket team from the mid-’70s up to the ’80s; and a postscript on Viv Richards’ side, Lloyd’s successor. Although it’s ostensibly about cricket, the focus is on how the cricket team managed to forge an identity for the disparate Caribbean islands and shake off the colonialist monkey on their backs.

Although I would’ve liked more cricket this really did fill gaps in my knowledge, as I was an apolitical teenager when the England captain, Tony Grieg, said he planned to make the W.Indies ‘grovel’. The racism was hardly ‘thinly veiled’ and absolutely disgraceful; I doubt he’d get away with it now, though the way Liverpool FC dealt with Suarez’s racist remarks might suggest differently.

It also put into context Kerry Packer’s breakaway ‘world series’ cricket, which seemed a betrayal at the time, but the W.Indies cricketers, despite their brilliance, were being paid peanuts.

Best of all though is the opportunity to see Michael Holding’s run up and Viv Richard’s arrogant batting again. I always knew they were a great team and now I can appreciate their political significance as well.

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