The Edge: Reasons even non-cricket fans should watch documentary on BBC Two

‘We’re going to start again’: Watch former head cricket coach Andy Flower in The Edge

If you’re not a cricket fan then convincing you to spend 90 minutes watching former players talk about their time in the sport is probably a tough ask.

But here goes.

The Edge, a documentary that follows the only England team to become the number one Test side in the world, will be shown on BBC Two at 21:00 BST on Sunday.

Here are some reasons to watch this engaging, funny and moving film, even if you are not a cricket fan.

Cast of characters

The film features both some of England’s greatest ever Test cricketers and some of its most fascinating characters.

Each had a distinct role in the team – authoritarian head coach Andy Flower, statesmanlike captain Andrew Strauss, jocular spinner Graeme Swann – and found a shared purpose in becoming the best.

Everyone gives their unflinchingly honest and insightful view in interviews that are far removed from a standard post-match news conference.

Focus on mental health

The Edge reveals itself to be a sensitive exploration of the affect of elite sport on mental health.

It is most apparent in the arc of batsman Jonathan Trott, from his entrance as a meticulous eccentric who measures his socks after each wash to his harrowing exit from the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia with a stress-related illness.

Most players recall moments of often tearful heartbreak, highlighting both how psychologically tough Test cricket is and the sacrifices required to play any sport at this level.

The candour of the interviews contrasts with how many suffered in silence at the time, with the team’s premature fall proving a lesson for all sports in the importance of taking mental health seriously.

Examination of leadership

Flower intimidates most of the players even before he sends them on a brutal training camp run by special forces in Germany before the 2009 Ashes.

The benefits of Flower’s relentless drive are clear in how England go from bowled out for 51 in the West Indies to the world’s best in 18 months – six months before his initial target.

But the film is not a straightforward endorsement of this uncompromising style of leadership – Flower himself agonisingly reflects he failed to prioritise his family enough in pursuit of his goals.

Behind the scenes access

Footage from matches features throughout but is shot from angles not used in regular television coverage.

You get the usually unseen and unheard sights and sounds from a stadium – though be warned of strong language when Australian fans and players let their feelings known towards their English counterparts.

Director Barney Douglas was England’s video producer during their rise to number one and so is able to draw on compelling never-before-seen footage, from the training camp to dressing room celebrations.

Is winning everything?

The rise and fall of any great sports team is always a compelling narrative and this England side matched a rapid rise with a sharp decline.

Strauss acknowledges getting to number one was actually an anti-climax and while every player is clearly proud of their achievements, the toll they took is just as apparent.

It is rare that a film about a triumphant sporting side leaves you wondering if all the success was worth the sacrifice.

BBC News