You would think that there are a lot of these, but in actual fact they are surprisingly rare. The World’s Fastest Indian qualifies as one, but that’s a fringe sport at best. Old Scores was pure fiction (and a bit toe-curling), and Invictus was Hollywood made, and the NZ angle was purely incidental.
Australia has had Phar Lap, Bradman, and the truly woful Bodyline mini-series, and Britain has produced Chariots of Fire and The Damned United, but surprisingly not a lot in between.
But this Sunday, on a channel whose sporting interests rarely extends past yachting, is the release of Tangiwai:- A Love Story.
The dramatisation of the concurrent events of the Tangiwai disaster; the biggest single transport loss of life on NZ soil and the courage against the odds of the amateur New Zealand cricket side in South Africa. And a story that epitomised the career of one of our best batsmen, Bert Suttcliffe.
If you don’t know the story you should; it’s one of the great tales of NZers up against adversity. New Zealand, for so long the whipping boys of test cricket and still without a test win at that stage, were on one of those travel-via-boat expeditions to South Africa. Meanwhile fast bowler Bob Blair’s fiancé boards a train.
For the rest watch the movie on Sunday.
As with any dramatisations there is poetic license used. The oppressive upbringing of Nerissa Love is overstated, and there’s a Sportsfreak bumper sticker awaiting the first person who can point out the liberty taken in the cricketing details of the plot.
But wait there’s more.
There is the acting debut of the multi careered Iain O’Brien; playing Neil Adcock. Demented evil guys are the roles that win awards, and there’s no better place to start than that of an angry Aryan South African fast bowler intent on sending as many New Zealand batsmen to hospital as possible.