Cricket on Film: A Major New Collection on BFI Player

9th June 2016, London – As the third of the Investec Test series opens at Lords, the BFI will release online a new collection of rare cricketing films drawn from the BFI National Archive and the UK’s regional and national archives, featuring some of the greatest players ever to grace a wicket, with Cricket on Film on 9th June. The films are all available to view for free on BFI Player and the collection features more than 130 titles, stretching back over 100 years, including newsreels, home movies, television reports, instructional films, and more. The earliest film in this collection is from 1897 and the most recent from 1991.

In a pioneering collaboration between the BFI National Archive and the English Cricket Board the spectators at selected cricket grounds across the UK will be able to see some of these rare films on big screens at Trent Bridge (21st June), Edgbaston (24th June), Kia Oval (29th June) and Emirates Old Trafford (22nd July).


Robin Baker, Head Curator, BFI National said, “We know that cricket fans love watching archive films of the sport so we are delighted to be able to give fans of every generation more opportunities to watch this glorious cricketing collection, drawn from the BFI National Archive and regional and national archives across the UK, both online via BFI Player and as they watch live action at cricket grounds, courtesy of the English Cricket Board.”

The collection includes a range of historic players guaranteed to excite both die-hard aficionados and the casual cricketing fan.

This is a fascinating chance to compare bowling and batting styles as practised at the highest level of the game across three generations, featuring legendary players such as Don Bradman, Alec Bedser, Denis Compton, Len Hutton, Basil D’Oliviera and many more.

ECB Director of Events, Steve Elworthy said: “We are delighted the BFI have made these films available – I’m sure cricket fans of all ages will enjoy them.”

“We are always looking at ways to improve the experience fans have with cricket, so being able to show this series throughout the summer will no doubt add something extra. There may even be a few players keen to watch clips of their relatives in action.”

See the full collection here: #cricketonfilm

Here’s our Top Eleven (and a Twelfth man in reserve) but there’s a “century” more where they came from:

  • Horsham Cricket Week and Grand Carnival, Thursday July 24th (1913) – a fascinating record from a pre-First World War summer.
  • First in the Field (1927) Newsreel coverage of the first County match to use the new, smaller ball.
  • Women, Willows and Wickets (1928) A team of “Enthusiastic girl cricketers” at Sunbury. One team was made up of women from the popular Lyons Corner Houses restaurant chain.
  • Test Cricket: Australia V. England at Sydney (1932) The first match in the Bodyline series, before it all kicked off.
  • Cohen Personal Film: The Oval (1938) Bradman carried off injured and England scoring a record in a Test.
  • MCC in West Indies (1948) A tour of the West Indies, a world away from war-torn Britain.
  • Denis Compton (1954) A profile of one of England’s first “superstar” sportsmen.
  • MCC Expeditionary Force in Australia (1954-55) England became the first team to defeat Australia at home since the Bodyline series of 1932, featuring Len Hutton, Colin Cowdrey and others.
  • Alec Bedser home movies (1954) Fabulous close-up insights into the 1954-5 Australia tour.
  • Basil D’Oliveira at Weston-super-Mare (1968) [South West Film Archive]
  • Basil “Dolly” D’Oliveira filmed around the time he was dropped from the England team (summer 1968) and then reinstated. An episode that helped highlight the ills of Apartheid to the rest of the world.
  • The Summer Game (1970) A lovely history of the game of cricket.
  • Northampton v Essex – The Benson & Hedges Cup Final (1980) [East Anglian Film Archive] Uproarious applause from the fans as Allan Lamb avoids being caught out by a hair’s breadth during the Benson & Hedges Cup Final in 1980, where Northamptonshire play against Essex at Lord’s.
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