Fire in Babylon: ‘out there it was war’
Film maker Stevan Riley, Sir Vivian Richards and members of the West Indies renowned pace attack of the 1970s attend the premiere of Fire In Babylon.
Dir: Stevan Riley; starring: Ian Botham, Colin Croft, Jeffery Dujon. 12A cert, 88 min.
You don’t need to know your silly mid off from your square leg to enjoy Fire in Babylon, a riveting account of the glory days of West Indian cricket. The turning point came in 1976 when Windies headed for England – at the time sweltering in its own tropical heatwave – wondering: “Can we beat our former masters at the game they created?” The answer was an emphatic yes: they returned home unbeaten in five test matches and three one-day internationals. In the process, they overcame a tradition of prejudice in the game and established a supremacy that made them unbeatable anywhere in the world for a decade and a half.
Fire in Babylon explores the forces that turned the West Indies of the late 1970s into cricket’s greatest dynasty – a ruthless winning machine that, at one stage, went 15 years without losing a Test series.
The documentary tells the story of West Indies cricket under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd and the talismanic Viv Richards, beginning with their ill-fated tour of Australia in 1975-76. It was a series in which they took a physical battering from the great pace duo Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson and verbal racist abuse from the stands. Yet from this humiliation, West Indies teams rallied together under the banner of black power to the supremacy they achieved between March 1980 and May 1995, where they played 29 Test series without losing a single one.
Director Stevan Riley’s film is a celebration of that sporting triumph and all its implications for black politics and culture, featuring the insights of stars such as the mighty Viv Richards and softly-spoken Clive Lloyd, as well as the likes of eccentric reggae legend Bunny Wailer. Joyous and uplifting.