“All the negative things which was said. Lot of folks felt that we were spoiling the game. We were aiming to kill. Nah. Aggression means aggression and that’s how I look at life. You fight, I am going to fight. We had a mission, a mission that we believed in ourselves. We believed that we were just as good as anyone. Equal for that matter.”

The 2010 cricket documentary opens with the above lines from Viv Richards. Prior to that, we see glimpses of the West Indian bowling attack which instilled fear in the minds of the best in the world.

Directed by Steven Riley, the film documents the record-breaking West Indian side of the 1970s and 1980s that brought the world to its knees with their skillful use of willow and leather, fighting the racial injustice and giving it tit-for-tat.

Set in the times of the turbulent apartheid era in South Africa, race riots in England and civil unrest in the Caribbean, the West Indies cricketers, with their skill and fearless spirit march their way to glory triumphing over their colonial masters and shambling the forces of white prejudice.

The film is the journey of a talented bunch of cricketers, who have been looked down upon, on how they transform themselves to world beaters, earning respect, love and admiration of the fans all over. The films shows the contrasting lives in the Caribbean in compared to developed West with reggae classics from Bob Marley and others beautifully weaved in.

Fire in Babylon was a joint winner of the UNESCO award at the Jamaican Film Festival 2011. The film includes interviews with several West Indian cricket legends like Richards, Colin Croft, Deryck Murray, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge and Clive Lloyd as well as some of their opponents like Ian Botham.

With the medium of interviews and footages, the film begins with an introduction to West Indies cricket and described is the idea of culturally and politically different independent islands playing under the common banner of ‘West Indies’.

The film looks through the history of West Indies cricket and how the team early on had white captains till Frank Worrell became the first black man to lead the team. The emergence of Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott, Learie Constantine, Garfield Sobers and others, made the side a formidable unit. Though talented, they were unable to fetch consistent results and it was perceived that “Calypso Cricketers” were entertaining sportsmen who would eventually lose.

Andy Roberts recalls (12.55 to 13.05 minutes), “We were entertainers but we were not winners and we always felt that anytime we could collapse and had no backbone.”

It wasn’t easy to take forward a group of cricketers who came from different nations to bond and play for one unit. As Michael Holding says (13.20 to 13.30 minutes), “You need to have someone who could keep all the individuals from different islands together and bond them and get them pointing in the same direction.”

The side needed the right leader to stand-up and show direction to the bunch of young and highly skilful cricketer. In the 1970s, a leader stood up and united the men. Appointed as captain in 1974, Clive Lloyd brought the change.

Mighty Gabby, the musician says (13.50 to 15.00), “Clive Lloyd wasn’t just a captain. He was a leader.”

“He said look we are strong people, we came from strong people, from kings and queens. We will go back to that which is strong. We are not here to make friends, we are here to win,” added Gabby.

Talking of Lloyd, Holding said, “Clive was someone you wanted to play for.”

His first major challenge came in the West Indies tour of Australia in 1975-76, when Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson destroyed the Caribbean side with intimidating fast bowling. They lost the Test series 5-1, but here was the lesson learnt. Lloyd knew that to win, he needed to cultivate fast bowlers, who could be as devastating as Thomson and Lillee.

When the India toured the West Indies in 1976, Lloyd tested the dangerous trio of Roberts, Holding, and Colin Croft to bowl short-pitched to Indian batsman and it worked.

Convinced with the effectiveness of the plan, Lloyd’s men proceeded to England the same year amidst tension of race riots in the country. England captain Tony Greig’s infamous ‘grovel’ comment galvanised and charged up the West Indies side, who unleashed aggressive fast bowling on English batsmen which was being seen dangerous to the game. Also what motivated them was the political scenario in England.

West Indies just didn’t go on to win the series but bruised and battered the England side. Grieg’s comment severely back-fired and began an unmatched era in West Indies cricket.

The documentary explores areas of pay struggle and also shows how Kerry Packet of Channel Nine enticed the best cricketers in the world to participate in the World Series Cricket in 1977, and how it helped the game evolve. The West Indies side continued their dominance in the WSC.

The documentary briefly explores the 1983 Rebel tour to Apartheid-ruled South Africa, which earned Croft, a life ban from West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). From the emergence of Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall, to the 5-0 drubbing England received in the hands of West Indies, the film also looks back at the Caribbean side’s unbeaten run in Test series in between 1980 to 1995.

Fire in Babylon is truly a gem that has beautifully captured the rise of West Indian cricket, and where the greats themselves have spoken about it all.