Death Of A Gentleman Review

For those of us deemed “outside cricket”, who follow the game and ask the awkward questions that have seen us branded with the OC monicker, Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins’ Death of A Gentleman is confirmation of the slime, sleaze, conflicts of interest and corruption at the heart of cricket’s global governance. If you like or love cricket and aren’t aware of or up to date with the happenings in the game’s governance then you need to see this film. No ifs or buts, you must see this film.

While the film exposes the vile nature and corrupt corporate conduct of those involved in the ICC’s top management, it parallels it with a journey through the test cricket playing dreams of Ed Cowan. A more stark contrast is difficult to imagine; one young man’s dream to wear his country’s cap and play for the honour versus greed, corporate self-interest and nest feathering.

In some ways the ICC top management is like the Roman Imperial family around the time of Augustus as depicted in I, Claudius: A giant web with one dominating figure at its heart (Livia / Srinivasan). Anyone opposing, upsetting or growing too powerful and becoming a threat to them gets removed and replaced by a puppet figure. Instead of Livia and her bottles of poison lurking with malicious intent it is the shadow of N Srinivasan and India Cements that looms large over the top echelons of the ICC.

Just as in I, Claudius there are people here who have ended up in exile. Lalit Modi is a marketing man, responsible for the creation of the IPL and therefore the sudden increase in the money made by the BCCI. And he is in exile in London after being ditched by Srinivasan, possibly on trumped up charges. The seemingly overcomplicated nature of IPL finances and governance make it difficult to be objective as an outsider therefore cynicism wins out.

Sam Collins spent time with Modi and despite prompting, the former Srinivasan favourite either doesn’t have the dagger or is unwilling to cry “The watchword is liberty!” (not suitable for minors) and do the deed. Whether he is waiting for the right time to do it only time will tell. Since seeing the film, Modi has come out claiming that he can help set up an alternative to the ICC, but if it involves more Indian conglomerate money then surely it is as tainted as anything coming from India Cements?

Keeping the I, Claudius theme going, would this make Modi the Caligula after Srinivasan’s Livia? What a sickening thought.

N Srinivasan doesn’t appear for too long in the film but he doesn’t need to – when you see how far the tendrils of India Cements reach it is clear how far his influence extends. He dead bats anything of a critical nature, offering a slight smile and a few words. He is as controlled in his public utterances as Andy Flower, saying nothing more than he feels he needs to and certainly nothing that a journalist may pounce on.

Giles Clarke comes out of even more of a slime and a sleaze than I expected; here we get to see full arrogance of the man. First sight we get of Clarke early on in the film is his claiming a family involvement with playing, administering and running the game going back 140 years, as if holding power in the ECB is a God given right.

The Woolf Report (PDF file) is one of the finest pieces ever written on the modern game. The introductions first lines “Cricket is a great game. It deserves to have governance, including management and ethics, worthy of the sport. This is not the position at the present time” rang true when first written, still rings true now and unless major change happens, will always ring true. Clarke casually dismisses Woolf with the excuse that “Woolf doesn’t know about cricket” while Clarke does.  That may be so but Woolf knows governance.  And as a businessman Clarke is aware that the principles of good governance apply whatever business or line of work you are in. He simply chooses to ignore them.

Giles Clarke is the man who prostituted English cricket to an American con man in Sir Allen Stanford. When Stanford is mentioned by Sam it makes Clarke bristle. His response is “I don’t talk about that”.

That’s a real shame because the world should know who performed due diligence on the deal between Stanford and the ECB. Dismissing Stanford in the same way some might dismiss an ill-judged one night stand after too much alcohol, Clarke is shown as unsuited to being a guardian of our game. Anything critical of him or anything Clarke doesn’t like is disdainfully dismissed.

Clarke is also categorical in his refusal to support cricket becoming an Olympic sport. Bulldust comments about it clashing with the English season are merely a mask hiding the fear that if Olympic status were granted, the Chinese government would give millions of Yuan to support the grass roots development of the game. And when China takes something seriously, they really mean business. Big threat to Srinivasan’s chokehold on the game and by extension, Clarke’s position. Better keep them out.

Watching Giles Clarke in the film, Yates is reminded of V For Vendetta’s Lewis Protheroe, so wonderfully played by Roger Allam in the movie. If ever Jarrod and Sam decide to make a film about Giles Clarke, we know the actor to play him. Tell Roger that Yates sent you 🙂

Haroon Lorgat is cut from similar cloth to Srinivasan and Flower in being very controlled in what he says; It’s what he doesn’t say that is notable. David Becker, former ICC Legal Affairs head is scathing in what he says, but is what he says enough to get external investigation in at the ICC? Probably not, much as I would love it to be. If he knows more is he willing to spill the beans as he is now elsewhere and beyond Srinivasan’s clutches? (assuming Srinivasan does not delve in criminal underworld dealings).

The meeting at which the “Big 3 carve up” got approval was supposed to be a secret one at which no journalists were present. But Sam and Jarrod found their way there, much to the obvious disgust of Giles Clarke and the ICC press officer who was not happy at the presence of a camera. In a scene reminiscent of Roger Cook, the press officer did his best to ensure the camera was switched off, although Jarrod and Sam will be relieved that they didn’t get clouted as Roger Cook so often did.

It is also interesting that Wally Edwards, chairman of Cricket Australia (the last of the “Big 3” triumvirate) “did not make himself available for interview”.

The film starts with various cricket people espousing what cricket is supposed to be, how “It’s not cricket” means that something is not right. Even The Return Of The Man From UNCLE had that phrase in it. By the end of the film you will be left feeling that what is going on at the ICC’s top management is definitely not cricket.

It is surely no coincidence that Yates has been a grumpier bugger than usual since seeing DOAG. It is time to change cricket for the better. Come and join us at changecricket.com