Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fire in Babylon

Fire in BabylonEven if, like me, you know nothing about cricket, you need to see this film.

As depicted in Fire in Babylon, in the early 1970s, the West Indian cricket team was an international joke. They were referred to as "calypso cricketers" and were seen as entertainers, not as winners.

When they travelled to Australia in 1975, the Australian team humiliated them and the "fast bowlers" physically assaulted them with the ball. So the West Indies team decided to fight back.

This was a matter of pride. Having gained independence from the British, they felt, by the 1970s, like they had something to prove.

The team captain, Clive Lloyd, travelled around the Caribbean islands in search of fast bowlers - and he found some. These guys just did not quit. Some of them could bowl the ball at 90 mph. When they got on the field, they could do serious damage, not just to the other players' bodies in the form of bruises and broken bones, but to their pride.

Fire in Babylon features interviews with many members of the West Indies team during that period.

Up until then, the captains of the West Indies team had always been white. But in the 1970s, there was a new, revolutionary spirit about, partly inspired by Bob Marley's music. The film contains some great clips of Marley in performance, singing "Get Up, Stand Up".

At the same time the West Indies team were rising, Black people in Britain were coming under increasing pressure from racism. When the West Indies team played in England and beat the England team in 1976, people in the stands - both Black and white - were cheering them on.

The players from the Caribbean also felt a connection with Black people fighting apartheid in South Africa.

The West Indies team defeated Australia, considered the best cricket team in the world, after which they dominated world cricket - they never lost a test series from 1975 to 1990. (For those who don't know, a test series is the highest level of international cricket - I think.)

Fire in Babylon was an incredibly uplifting, inspiring and moving film. Just one of many wonderful events hosted by Black History Studies.

See also: Next Black History Events.

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