OPINION: First Thoughts on Death of a Gentleman

We were at the Gate Picture House in Notting Hill last night to see Death of a Gentleman and hear a passionate Q&A by writer-director Sam Collins.

Although it focuses exclusively on men’s cricket, Death of a Gentleman offers a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of food-for-thought on the state of the game and its governance.

Perhaps somewhat incongruously, women’s Test cricket is actually in a slightly better state right now than it has been for some years. There were 3 Tests played in 2014, involving four different countries – England, Australia, South Africa and (amazingly, given the general attitude of their governing board to both the women’s game and Test cricket in general) India.

2015 will probably see just one Test – the much derided recent encounter in England – but at least the multi-format Women’s Ashes seems to have secured some sort of future for women’s Test cricket in the medium term, as the points system appears to have already acquired for itself the aura of a tradition which will hopefully insulate it against the base commercial pressures it is nonetheless certain to face.

Nevertheless, it is clear that if men’s Test cricket is a ship awash upon an ocean of troubles, the women’s equivalent is more of an open lifeboat in a gale-force storm, the ship having long-since sunk. The Women’s Ashes alone can’t sustain the format as anything more than a quaint anachronism.

To be fair, the ECB, the BCCI and CA have shown that they don’t want the format to die completely, having all played Tests in the past year. The challenge now is to begin to rebuild – for Australia and India to schedule a Test when they meet next Easter; for England to invite Pakistan to play a 4-dayer when they are here in 2016; and for the ICC to set up the redistributive mechanisms which can bring the game back to the smaller nations.

Because if men’s Test cricket is worth saving, so is women’s – we need to change our cricket too!