London Film Festival 2010: “Fire in Babylon” is gorgeous

Viv Richards, the peerless genius of West Indian batsmen, fixes the camera with his steely glare. The very same one he used when joining combat with the best bowlers in the world before hammering them all over the boundaries. Impervious to pain and chewing gum he would stand defiantly, proudly at the crease taking whatever bruising punishment came his way. Richards stares at the camera, “My bat could have been my sword at that time.”

Stevan Riley’s superb film “Fire In Babylon” documents the rise to power of the West Indian Cricket team in the 1970s to their total world domination of a sport that was originally used by their British colonial masters as a means of subjugation and humiliation. Undefeated for 15 years, Clive Lloyd’s team became a focal point for West Indian independence, black consciousness and the fight against apartheid. Continue reading

Sri Lankan cricket players attacked in Pakistan

Late Tuesday morning, the Sri Lankan cricket team was driving towards Qaddhafi Stadium in the centre of Lahore to continue its test match against Pakistan when gunmen leapt out at them and shot from three directions. Eight team members are wounded. Seven policemen are dead. The series is cancelled. All the roads in that part of town are blocked.

Starting from around 10 a.m. I heard ambulances going down Canal Road, with their loudspeakers blaring for people to get out of the way. One, two, some five ambulances over the course of an hour. I was reading email and preparing my class for the day – non-violence in Jainism – and thought maybe there had been a big accident or something nearby.

But the sirens haven’t stopped. Friends have phoned friends to ask if everyone’s okay and everyone was okay because the people targeted were Sri Lankans and the people killed were policemen. The rest of us are horrified, as we figure out how to leave our houses to go where we need to go.

News outlets are saying that the gunmen left behind grenades, guns and, get this, rocket launchers. Rocket launchers! The police gave chase and first it was said that someone was caught in Model Town, a neighbourhood 15 minutes away. But those weren’t the right guys, it seems. Meanwhile, the bomb squad defused a bomb at the scene. Continue reading