Bat Men: Fire in Babylon

A New Film Sets the Story of Cricket's Record-Breaking All-Stars to a Bob Marley Soundtrack

Chronicling the West Indian cricket team’s explosion onto the international stage in the late 70s, Stevan Riley’s documentary Fire in Babylon profiles the panache-laden champions whose 15-year Test series winning streak changed the game forever. Initially derided in England as “calypso cricketers,” the team’s superhuman fast-bowlers soon earned themselves a more fearsome nickname: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. “They gave cricket a sharp shot of adrenalin, flair and cool,” says Riley. “Suddenly it was a danger sport; English batsman were contorting and twisting to avoid lethal missiles that were flying close to 100mph.” Riley weaves his story using vintage footage and interviews with such legends as Sir Vivian Richards, also known as the “Master Blaster”, who is perhaps the only batsman to nonchalantly chew gum while collecting more runs than his opponents’ whole team. Soundtracked by reggae pioneers of the era like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, the film delves beyond athleticism to examine a turbulent era of race riots and civil unrest, in which the West Indies team hijacked a sport brought to the islands by their former colonial masters, remolding it on their own terms.

Fire in Babylon is out in the US tomorrow.


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