Capturing Cricket - Steve Waugh in India Review: A search into the method behind the madness
It is interesting to see the rather insightful and intense captain letting his guard down as he roams around the country capturing the vagaries of cricket in India
In India, cricket is a religion. Many doyens of the game, both in India and the rest of the World, have said this multiple times. In a quest to put that statement to test, former Australian captain Steve Waugh returns to India with a camera crew in tow for Discovery’s latest documentary, Capturing Cricket: Steve Waugh in India. It is interesting to see the rather insightful and intense captain letting his guard down as he roams around the country capturing the vagaries of cricket in India.
Streaming on: Discovery Plus
Steve Waugh and his crew of two — mentor and photographer Trent Parke and friend Jason Brooks — try to understand what makes cricket a unifying factor in a country like India. They try to wrap their heads around how innumerable matches happen at the same time in the Mumbai Maidans. They give Bengaluru’s Blind cricket a try only to come out all croppers and develop respect for the players playing the game. They feel a sense of serenity and awe when they capture monks of Dharamshala playing cricket in their traditional attire. There is also a brief brush with royalty while they frame for posterity the batting style of the Prince of Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara. A deep look into the cramped-up cricket of Dharavi and finding a diamond in the rough in Delhi round out the documentary as Steve Waugh and Co try to relish all the insights in a choc-a-block schedule.
One of my favourite moments of Capturing Cricket is when Waugh teaches a few tricks to a young girl practicing at the Azad Maidan, and when he leaves, she falls on his feet in reverence. Waugh immediately says, “No no, don’t do that…” and gives her a handshake. It makes us realise that Waugh has an understanding of how this diverse country works. A diversity that is bound together by the sport that unites us all — cricket.
It fits the narrative of Indian cricket when Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli are introduced with fanfare and build-up about how they were, are, and will be the legends that kids look up to, while Rahul Dravid just plonks himself on a chair to say the most insightful things. He is the grounding factor of this documentary that seems to paint a rosy picture about India.
While it is fun to see Steve Waugh losing that icy-cool stoic demeanour and sporting a wide smile in almost every frame, Capturing Cricket is more about the vignettes of truth dropped by India’s own stoic personality — Rahul Dravid. He mentions the rise of social media as a way of getting obscure talents getting noticed despite the wrenching poverty, but is quick to add that the odds are still small. With Dravid, there is no flowery poetry but just strong, hard facts. When he says, “Indians always had the intelligence and ability. IT is now backed by opportunities and a system,” you know it is true because it is said by someone like Dravid.
These insights are more in line with the Waugh we know, who looks at players playing in a garbage dump, and says, “No one but Indians will come back and play the game in such a set-up.” Even if he jokes around with 3-year-old prodigies or has a swing or two with the bat in Dharavi or tries his hand at blind cricket, Steve Waugh, as Tendulkar describes him, is methodical, competitive, and fair. It is in stark contrast to the cricket on the streets of India, which is chaotic, unhinged, and somehow… still methodical.
To sum this documentary up that has Steve Waugh bringing in the outsider’s view of a religion that binds most of us, we rely on Dravid, as always, to take this over the finishing line. He says with a smile, “Maybe the British invented cricket, but it was a game meant to be played by Indians.”