"I think I'll bring the Gorilla on at the far end"
From the Ashes is essential viewing for cricket fans, whoever they support in the world. It showcases not just the considerable talents of England's greatest all rounder, Ian Botham, but also why the game of cricket is so loved by those who stand proud to be counted as fans. The documentary, however, is not just concerned with the sport of cricket, it's very aware of the impact that a country's sports stars can have on the nation.
Brearley was Botham's Spock to his Kirk.
The 1981 Ashes series was played to the backdrop of social discord as Thatcher's government oversaw strikes, riots and unemployment carnage. Britain was falling to its knees, and as the England cricket team, with their figurehead Botham misfiring and under fire in the press, fell behind to a cock-a-hoop Australia, apathy ruled and the crowds did dwindle. Leeds in mid July and England, the cricket team, were spiralling towards a certain defeat, but cometh the hour, cometh the men (Botham and Bob Willis), out of darkness comes light, the miracle of Headingly not only transformed a sporting series that England would amazingly win, it put the smile back on the faces of a working class Britain that had forgotten to do so.
Full of insightful input by the key Australians of that series (characters supreme they be as well), Erskine is not all about flag waving for Britannia, in fact a post script on the next Ashes series ensures we know about how Australian captain Kim Hughes (a beautiful and correct batsman himself) also came out of that cricket darkness. There's anecdotes, rivalries and revelations aplenty, while a soundtrack boasting the likes of The Clash, Ten Pole Tudour, The Specials, The Police, New Order and Squeeze sets the tone perfectly. The sound mix and editing is top draw as well (love those sound bites of a dramatic cricket incident played to a photographic still that says it all), and Hardy's narration proves he is heir apparent to Brian Blessed's crown!
Many other sports have participants these days that fail to realise just how their efforts can lift a nation, make them feel good in times of struggle, to play for what is on your chest and not what is in your wallet. From the Ashes at its core is about that, it's an ode to being all that you can be, to inspire, even if it happens to be only briefly. 9/10