“Aggression means aggression, that’s how I look at life, in fight am going to fight. We had a mission; a mission that we believe in ourselves and we believe that we are just as good as anyone…… Equal for that matter.” : Sir Vivian Richards
Steven Riley’s documentary starts with highlights of some fierce fast bowling and batsmen crumpling to the ground. Those violent but fulgurant images straightaway set the enthralling tone for the entire 80 minutes. This documentary tells us the true story of a social-rebellion by a cricket team. Riley very deftly manages to showcase the transformation of the West Indies Test Cricket Team from entertaining but lacking substance ” calypso cricketers” to become vehement combatants.
Documentary starts with the turbulent 60s and early 70s with racism in the world at its zenith and the West Indies Cricket struggling even to make a palpable mark in International Cricket. They don’t have a leader in their team who can unite all the Caribbean players from different islands under one flag of West Indies. Not much time has passed since their liberation from the british colonial rule and the remnants from the colonial rule are still visible in all the islands of Caribbean. Citizens of all the Caribbean islands are still oppressed and they all need something to hold on to, something they can be proud of, something they can all boast without ignominy as being purely Caribbean. Enters, one of the best captains of Test Cricket History “Clive Llyod”, who after the disastrous 1975 tour of Australia resolves to embrace the merciless tactics of their vitriol-hurling adversaries (Australians) for their own realization and thus starts one of the greatest transformations ever in sports history.
The narration takes us through the formative years of West Indies test Cricket strengthening themselves as a veritable world power. From the calamitous australian tour of 1975 to renowned “Blackwash” england tour of 1984, it shows all the political and the social ups and downs of West Indies cricket and its impact on the Caribbean society.
Riley, while showing us all the political & racism related facets of those years and their impact on West Indies cricket, astutely manages to keep the prime focus on the strengths of West Indies Cricket. Documentary deftly and instructively tell us the about the unsubduable Viv Richards as their batting lynchpin, ferocious Pace Quartet as their bowling arsenal & Clive Llyod as their inspiring leader. Random musical numbers infuse a kind of Caribbean vitality to the documentary. The part describing the nicknames & strengths of the Fearsome Foursome “Roberts, Garner, Holding and Marshall” was simply awe-inspiring. These 80 minutes germinated a serious respect for Sir Vivian Richards in me not only as a batsman but also as a human being. Only down side with the documentary is Riley’s exaggerated depiction of apartheid and racism in some shots.
In a nutshell, this is the story of one of the greatest test teams ever, a team which wanted to beat their former masters in their own game and if you are a big fan of the game of cricket, you sure can’t afford to miss this one.
My Rating: 8/10, Not to be missed.
P.S: Personally, I think ” Whispering Death” is one of the coolest nicknames in sports history.