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ESPNcricinfo’s short film series explores the world of cricket and its controversies

The five short films, part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, are based on stories created using ESPNcricinfo’s powerful storytelling capabilities. They will be released over five weeks every Wednesday

ESPNcricinfo has created a series of five short films called ‘ESPNcricinfo films’ which explore gripping tales from the world of cricket. As a part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, the series covers a range of intriguing topics from the transformation of the game over the past decade, including the onset of the T20 format, the fierce rivalry of India and Australia over the years, and the recent cheating scandal in the context of similar ball-tampering controversies over the years.

The five short films are based on stories created using ESPNcricinfo’s powerful storytelling capabilities built over 25 years. The topics deal with issues that continue to be widely debated and have been tailored to appeal to both entrenched fans and those who are less seasoned followers of the game. The stories feature insights from past and present cricket stars, including former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, former Australia opening batsman Simon Katich and former Australia captain and commentator Ian Chappell. The films take viewers across the grounds of India where cricket meets Bollywood, to the recent cheating controversy in South Africa, and one of the most anticipated face-offs currently taking place in Australia as they host India.

The series debuted with The Bollywood Game: Is the Indian T20 League celebrity first and then cricket? It tells the story of cricket’s transition into the T20 format, which has changed the face of the sport over the last decade, with the booming Indian T20 League leading the way. Delving deeper into the steady rise of Indian T20 League, it tries to answer the question — while cricket was the catalyst for the tournament, is it still the main reason for it to exist?

The series will continue with its second one, Cheats: Does the gentleman’s game have a problem? The film slated to release on November 28 tells the gripping story of how Australian cricket was rocked earlier this year when Captain Steven Smith admitted to a premeditated plan to tamper with the ball at Newlands. It dives into the long history of Australian sledging and competitiveness that played a part in causing the meltdown and the impact it had on the game and the length to which cheating, or attempting to cheat go in the sport.

The third film in the series is Australia v India: Is this the fiercest relationship in cricket? The film will be released on December 5 as one of the biggest rivalries in world cricket — Australia v India — come to play again in one of the most eagerly anticipated contests of the year. Every time the two teams have met for a contest, the world has seen stunning performances on the field and also its fair share of controversies. The film attempts to decipher whether the two teams and their supporters really not get along or whether it stems only from passion for the sport and the burning desire for victory.

Following this is an interesting take on managing risks and players’ safety, captured in the fourth film, Gearing Up: Keeping cricket safe. The film is slated to release on December 12. The film looks back at the past when batsmen had little or no protection against some of the game’s fastest bowlers and at the present when the game looks to be ever more accessible and how it manages potential risks.

The last in the series is called T20 Rockstars: How does the game adapt to the growth of T20? It will be released on December 19 and explores how T20 is changing the game, and if it is for the better or worse. Players are starting to look at T20 leagues as fortune-making opportunities, shunning the other formats, in turn presenting a challenge for the game at large. However, the format is anticipated to only get bigger with a growing audience for the sport. Will cricket just continue to adapt?

Lance Peatey, General Manager, Southeast Asia, ESPN, said, “At ESPN we pride ourselves on setting the benchmark for the best sports storytelling in the world, so it seemed a very natural fit to create five ‘ESPNcricinfo films’ to mark the 25th anniversary of ESPNcricinfo. The topics are lively, thought-provoking and relevant to all fans, and launching them across a test series between Australia and India is very fitting.”

Sambit Bal, Editor-in-Chief, ESPNcricinfo and ESPN South Asia, said, “ESPNcricinfo continues to harness the power of storytelling and this time, we decided to expand our cricket-loving unit to filmmakers who are looking at the game from an unconventional lens. We are delighted to introduce this five-short films series to cricket fans across the world through our platforms. Going beyond regular cricket updates and analysis, ESPNcricinfo films will engage viewers with compelling, often unknown or previously unseen, narratives that capture the power, emotion and profoundness of cricket.”

Ian Chappell, former Australian captain and commentator, said, “It’s always been exciting to be a part of ESPNcricinfo’s team that delivers such high-quality cricket content for fans around the world. It was a pleasure to work with ESPNcricinfo films and participate in the telling of great stories with a team of experts. I’m confident that cricket fans will enjoy these films for both their entertainment value and informative content.”

The films are hosted on ESPNcricinfo.com and the ESPNcricinfo app and will be released every Wednesday over a course of five weeks. The films are also available natively on YouTube and Facebook.

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