This piece is a review of a documentary that began streaming on Amazon Prime Video earlier this week – a documentary about the resurgence of Australian cricket from the ignominy of the ‘sandpaper gate’ (the ball tampering scandal in South Africa) to winning the Ashes last year. The series stands out for the seamless access the producers have got into the dressing rooms of a team going through what is clearly a massively emotional journey, highlighting a new genre of content for today’s audience.
“Whether you love or despise the Australian cricket team, The Test on Amazon Prime, charting the 18 months from the Cape Town sandpaper scandal to retaining the Ashes at the end of the 2019 English summer, provides a compelling insight into the workings of present-day international cricket. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect to the eight-part docuseries is how it represents Cricket Australia taking a big step forward in the content arms race.
Since the 2013/14 Ashes and the introduction of cricket.com.au, dubbed their “independent media arm” at the time (the independent tag long since jettisoned), CA have been at the forefront of pushing their own brand. The success of that has largely been through their in-house productions.
Content creation has been the name of the game for the last ten years and, when it comes to online cricket media, cricket.com.au have been at the forefront when it comes to online streaming an social media. Much of that is to do with healthy budgets, emanating from CA headquarters, and the work of a dedicated team who operate in tandem at matches and remotely.
…Still, it is comfortably the best of its kind: a cricket documentary that shows us a World Cup and an Ashes through the prism of a once-great team trying to find a way to be itself by shedding much of what made it reviled yet great.
“We like them and, in a way, that’s more important than being proud of them”, is how Australian cricket writer and historian Gideon Haigh sums it up at the end. It was not made with England fans in mind, but it will certainly win a few of them over.
But perhaps its most far-reaching impact will be showing governing bodies with cash, like the England & Wales Cricket Board and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, how wedding access on their terms with outside creativity can develop a product that can compete for eyes in a saturated market.”
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