Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fast and Furious

I finally watched the much talked about documentary on West Indies cricket - Fire in Babylon today. It is an interesting look back at the West Indian domination of world cricket from the mid to late 70s onwards. It provides some sensational footage and quite a few interesting anecdotes from a time gone by. Having said that, it has to be mentioned that it is a rather biased account in several ways. Cricketing View has a fairly detailed critique of the documentary here, but just at the outset, the narrative that West Indies were just an entertaining bunch of losers before the Lloyd era didn't feel right. Nor did the lack of time given to the legends before the Lloyd era:  Gary Sobers, the 3 Ws, Hall and Griffith or even George Headley, barely got a mention.
However, the highlight of the documentary for me was the fast bowling on display. The incredible battery of pace bowlers, together with the lack of protective equipment for batsmen and for some time period, the lack of rules to govern the amount of bouncers to be bowled, made cricket back then, a very different game. The amount of physical courage involved to face that sort of bowling must have been immense, the fear felt by a batsman must have been primal, the feelings of all those involved must have been visceral....It is a facet of the game, which someone like me, who has been watching the game from the 90s onwards has never experienced. Yes, I have seen the last stages of Marshall, Hadlee and Imran, I have seen Wasim and Waqar in all their glory, Walsh and Ambrose in full cry, Mcgrath and Lee, Steyn, Shoaib and yes, Srinath and Zaheer too - produce great displays of fast bowling. But rarely, if ever, have I felt a concern for the batsmen's physical safety - injuries facing fast bowling have become lesser over the years - and thankfully so. For better or for worse, I have not witnessed anything like the era of Lilee and Thompson and the West Indian pace attack.
If nothing else, Fire in Babylon deserves a watch, for some great fast bowling footage. It is cricket from a different era, the likes of which, some of us have never seen before.
PS:  Talking of fast bowling,, a few weeks ago, Sehwagology had tweeted this youtube video - this is absolutely fascinating. Check out the actions of the fast men. There is nothing quite like Michael Holding delivering a cricket ball. This is one for the vault.

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