I love cricket. And I love movies. The problem is, Hollywood - or indeed any kind of -wood - seems to think that my two favourite pastimes should never meet.
Long has my desire to watch something cricket-y on the big screen been quashed. I know there have been attempts, by Bollywood and others, yet none have ever penetrated the national conscience, or been all that good. Which is strange to me, because there are plenty of movies about baseball and while I love baseball, it's just as slow moving and stat-related as cricket. Nevertheless, Field Of Dreams (magnificent), The Natural (brilliant), that one about the kid who somehow has a super-strong arm (creepy and rubbish) are all part of the cinematic canon.
So what can we do about it? The BFI pledges to support British cinema, so maybe we need to encourage it to really think about what makes a proper British film. Cricket has it all. Parochialism - check. Ethnic diversity - yep. Idiosyncrasy - absolutely. However, generally the Brits still seem obsessed with trying to make another Guy Ritchie-style gangster hit or turning that Downton Abbey-mania into movie gold (for the record, ex-Abbey resident Dan Stevens is himself an elegant strokemaker).
As such, I've decided to offer my services. This blog is essentially an open pitch session to all you big-time producers and shakers who might want to dip into your investment funds to angel me a few mill. Kickstarter should come later. Here are my best ideas for a cricket-centric film. I guarantee should you decide to help me make any of them, they will win either an Oscar, a BAFTA or an award I'm planning to create myself.
My contact details are below. Let's do this.
1. Botham's Ashes - a fictional reboot of the awesome drama that was the 1981 Headingley Ashes Test, starring Gerard Butler as Beefy. Also featuring John C. Reilly as Bob Willis.
2. A cinematic version of the brilliant Bodyline TV miniseries - with Hugh Grant as Douglas Jardine, Robert Downey Jr. doing his Aussie accent from Natural Born Killers as Bradman and Shia LaBeouf as Bill Voce. Unfortunately, I worry Shia does a rubbish Nottinghamshire dialect.
3. Argo did very well last year, so how about the cricket version? In a desperate bid to extract a kidnapped team of 11 electrical engineers from Pakistan in 1978, an MI6 operative (Clive Owen) and David Puttnam (John Goodman) travel to Islamabad to put on a faux pre-cursor to the IPL. This film is called Knockout and is similar to Escape To Victory, but without Sly Stallone trying to save a penalty. N.B.: inspired by a story made up by me.
4. A hilarious but touching period romcom about the abortive romance between England women's player June Bragger (Katherine Heigl) and Peter May (Bradley Cooper) on a tour to India. Aimed at the Eat Pray Love crowd.
5. In a Frost/Nixon-esque battle of wills, Tony Greig (Paul Bettany) and Viv Richards (Lennie James) meet up after each day's play during the 'grovel' scandal to talk about life, love and how not to get hit in the head by Michael Holding (Idris Elba).
6. Shot by director Paul Greengrass or Michael Winterbottom in docu-drama style, we follow Mike Gatting (Timothy Spall) leading the 86-87 England team to victory in the Ashes Down Under against Merv Hughes (Russell Crowe) and Dirk Welham (an interesting newcomer).
Cheques should be made out to cash and sent to the address stated please.