Ron Knight on Cricket and the Portrayal of Cricket in the Movies

Ron Knight on Cricket and the Portrayal of Cricket in the Movies

July 10, 2015 in Notes


  1. I got an email this week from the President of the Yale Cricket Club, recognizing me as a past member of the club and, in the time-hallowed tradition of Yale, seeing club support from alumni.  (Obiter dictum:  It always amazed me how as left-wing an outfit as Yale was so capitalistic in its support of student organizations.  Here at UNC-CH the clubs are supported by mandatory student fees that are then portioned out by the student government according to political pull; much more socialistic.)  I was surprised to be recognized as a Yale Cricket Club alumnus, since I had no real acquaintance with cricket until 5 years after graduation.  So I emailed back describing my cricketing history and expressed wonder at how he had my name, since I wasn’t a Yale Cricket Club alumnus. He replied, “I got your contact details from the Office of Development. They provided me with contact details of alumni who either directly played for the club or expressed interest in Cricket.”  That still doesn’t explain how the Office of Development knew of my interest in cricket; the only guess I can make is that somebody scans the alumni notes and makes notations that go into your permanent record.  At any rate, all of you who are paranoid about the NSA eavesdropping on your phone calls should worry more about the Yale Office of Development.


  1. Several of you at the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival said that, although you didn’t feel expert yet on all aspects of cricket, and weren’t ready for a book or movie whose main emphasis was cricket, you could more enjoy now any book or movie that included cricket as a side plot.  We discussed some of these movies together at the Festival. Grant Legg brought the movie Fire in Babylon to my attention, and I downloaded it just before coming to the Festival.  It details the time that the West Indies became and stayed a cricket champion over the course of two decades in the ’70s and ’80s.  Largely this was a result of dangerous and intimidatory bowling, which the movie exploits as a sensationalistic hook throughout. There are also some socialistic and anticolonialistic attitudes that are used as an explanation as to why it was so important for the West Indies to “overcome their former colonial masters”.  I have my opinion about that, but I can say that I heard such opinions and attitudes quite frequently during this time, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1977-1982.


A book, which I highly recommend, even if it is written from a largely Marxist perspective, is CLR James’s Beyond a Boundary.  Many of the same themes emphasized as in Fire in Babylon, but with love of cricket shining through every masterful page.  CLR James is in the top list of West Indian authors, and this book is a cricket classic.


A movie that I thoroughly enjoyed that was mostly about racial relations in Britain as the immigrant population swelled in the 1960s, but also has substantial cricketing side content, is Wondrous Oblivion, a 2003 British movie.  I found the movie hilarious, including the line from which the title came, and highly recommend it even for those who don’t know much about cricket.


Another movie we discussed is the 2001 film Lagaan, which broke somewhat into mainstream moviegoing among those who follow foreign films (it received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.  It’s a typical Hindi blockbuster with Bollywood dance numbers and a length of nearly 4 hours.  My mom watched this with me and enjoyed it, and she’s not a fan of subtitles or cricket.


I am mentioning only movies I have seen myself, but there are plenty of other good ones you can find by Googling “cricket movies”.


The last movie I’ll mention here is one you might not have noticed; it’s a Canadian film called Seducing Dr. Lewis, and isn’t at all about what the title makes you think it is about.  It is about a small Canadian maritime fishing village that tries to attract a doctor, needed in their village, and sets its sights on an English-speaking doctor from Montreal who has gotten in some trouble with the medical authorities and his girlfriend and might be willing to re-settle.  Assuming that the doctor is a cricket fanatic, the village lays out a cricket pitch and sets out to convince the doctor that cricket is a passion there.  Again, you may need to resort to the subtitles, even if you speak French, as the language is mostly Canadian maritime French.  But I loved this movie.


All the best,

Ron K.

PS. Seducing Dr. Lewis was evidently made under the original French title of La grande séduction.  The movie was remade in English in 2013 as The Grand Seduction.  So take your pick, or watch ’em all.

PPS. There is a listing of cricket movies at that gives more plot previews than I have time to type here.  I haven’t seen too many of them, but some of them look interesting.  Be sure to check the comments after the article for suggestions omitted from the article.


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