New doco explores Australia-India rivalry | cricketnetwork.com

New doco explores Australia-India rivalry

12 October 2018

Greats of the game detail changing face of Australia's cricket rivalry with India in documentary '2 Nations, 1 Obsession'

Virat Kohli will lead India's Test outfit to Australia next month, not only as the world's number-one ranked team but carrying overwhelming expectation of an unprecedented series victory on Australia’s turf.

The upheaval that has vastly altered Australia's playing personnel and on-field aura means India are favoured to end 70 years of failure on the continent where they’ve not won a Test series in 11 previous attempts, stretching back to their first tour against Don Bradman's men in 1947-48.

2 Nations, 1 Obsession: Trailer 2

But a new documentary from award-winning film-maker Peter Dickson reveals that it's not simply faster, bouncier pitches that have hobbled earlier efforts from the cricket-crazy nation whose venerated stars are nurtured on slow, spinning tracks at home.

Perhaps more potently, India touring teams have found travelling to Australia as alien and intimidating as have their arch-opponents when faced with the confounding conditions of the sub-continent.

The fundamental differences in culture and character between two countries so inextricably linked by their passion for cricket is a compelling narrative explored in the two-part series 2 Nations, 1 Obsession that premieres on Fox Cricket next month.

Dickson, whose Forged in Fire documentary recounting of the Ashes legend enjoyed both success and acclaim when aired during last summer's Australia-England battle, travelled to India earlier this year to capture the game’s sub-continental soul.

Australia celebrate their 2004 triumph in India // Getty
Australia celebrate their 2004 triumph in India // Getty

As well as speak with key figures in the nations' intense recent rivalry.

In addition to Australia legends Allan Border, Adam Gilchrist, Greg Matthews, Craig McDermott, Michael Kasprowicz and Greg Chappell (who coached India after his stellar Test playing career), Dickson also interviews India demi-gods Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Bishan Bedi, Ravi Shastri and Dilip Vengsarkar.

Respected cricket commentators and keen cultural observers Mike Coward and Harsha Bhogle also feature in the documentary which, like Forged in Fire, has been released by Cricket Australia Productions as part of their growing slate of cricket feature films.

While the two one-hour episodes of 2 Nations, 1 Obsession focus on key events in Australia-India contests over the past three decades – the 1986 tied Test in Chennai, Australia's epic 2001 defeat and 2004 redemption in India, and the incendiary 2007-08 'Monkeygate' summer – they also take a broader perspective.

"It is a cultural piece," said Dickson, who travelled to India at the height of this year’s IPL tournament when cricket-mania there spikes even higher.

The final wicket from the infamous 2008 SCG Test // Getty
The final wicket from the infamous 2008 SCG Test // Getty

"We've looked to examine the differences in life between the two nations, and then see how that transfers into cricket and, in turn, the central players in that relationship both on and off the field.

"The heart of the story is that relationship.

"It’s headed up by the rivalry which really had its beginning in that tied Test and has grown in strength and passion ever since, and how that evolution has taken place through the past thirty years."

Dickson said his newest cricket venture differs from Forged in Fire – which studied in detail four pivotal Ashes series of the past half a century – in that it delves more deeply into the sociological factors that underpin a rivalry that is as hard-edged as any in world cricket.

It also features stunning vision of India's colourful and chaotic daily life which Dickson admits, at times, lends the documentary the lush look of a tourism promotion.

Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh clash in a 2007 ODI // Getty
Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh clash in a 2007 ODI // Getty

"If for the visuals alone, I think this is a film that even people who don't identify as hard-core cricket fans will appreciate and enjoy," he told cricket.com.au.

"India is an amazing country that is rising in wealth and influence, and that comes across in the way their approach to cricket has changed.

"Former greats from both countries acknowledge that in years gone by, the Indian teams were too easily bullied.

"But now they’ve found their voices, and the world is hearing them loud and clear."

India celebrate their famous 2001 series win // Getty
India celebrate their famous 2001 series win // Getty

Nobody exemplifies that combative new Indian spirit more markedly than Kohli, who led his team to a 2-1 win in the fiercely competitive Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in India last year.

And whose defence of that prize begins in the first Domain Test beginning at Adelaide Oval on December 6.

"The cricket rivalry between Australia and India is an incredible one, and it is fantastic to have this film series that brings it to life so vividly, even as we prepare to host them across three formats this summer," CA’s Executive General Manager Broadcasting, Media, Digital and Commercial Ben Amarfio said.

"Teams from both countries have been involved in some of the most exciting contests, gripping moments, and unbelievable performances in world cricket, all of which has made every match between the two nations a meaningful and unmissable event.

Forged in Fire: Episode 1 trailer

"We are excited to be working with Peter on this film to give viewers an in-depth and unique view on the relationship between the two nations and the cricket obsession that binds them."

2 Nations, 1 Obsession is the latest documentary film to be released by Cricket Australia Productions, which has a number of ground-breaking projects currently in production or development, and scheduled for release over coming seasons.

The first instalment of 2 Nations, 1 Obsession will screen on Fox Cricket at 5.20pm on Wednesday, November 21 as a lead-in to Australia's T20 International against India at the Gabba.

The second episode will air the following evening at 8.30pm, with the full documentary also available worldwide via Cricket Australia's international broadcast partners.

About the Writer

 @ARamseyCricket
@ARamseyCricket

Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.