DVD: From The Ashes (E)

Back when the Somerset all-rounder Ian "Beefy" Botham walloped the Aussies single-handed (with a bit of help from a hairy Bob Willis) in this bombastic but gripping look (from the same director, James Erskine, who made the similarly stirring documentary about the 1990 World Cup One Night in Turin, Gazza's tears etc) at the giddy 1981 Ashes.

After two Tests, captain Beefy looked a busted flush, his senior players (Geoff Boycott) were grumbling, his form was wretched – he fell to two abject ducks at Lords. So, after considerable pressure from the press and the establishment (the MCC), he resigned as skipper, and the cerebral, master tactician Mike Brearley took over. The rest – the miracles of Headingley (149 not out, lots of sixes) and Edgbaston (five wickets, conceding one run), followed by the "demolition job" at Old Trafford – is barmily beautiful history. The footage here is rather grainy, but Beefy's hoiks are still a joy, as is Dennis Lillee's yellow headband and his fearsome 'tache.

But the most compelling aspect is the talking-head snippets from the beaten Aussie captain Kim Hughes and his divisive wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who still resembles a livid urban mole. The antipathy between these two still evidently remains. Hughes, once the fresh-faced golden boy of Australian cricket, now cuts a rather puffy, fragile figure. You feel almost sorry for him.

Comments