Updated: Jul 26, 2019
The sporting gods must have smiled on a film released days after England's triumph in the Cricket World Cup; victory fashioned by the sadism of a super over adding kudos to a new landmark. However, cricket remains a coded language heard by many but understood by the few.
A game where mental agility matters more than physicality. An intellectual battle that pits batsmen against bowler, wicket keeper and nine fielders. Where is the logic of one versus eleven? Similarly, a bowler doesn't dismiss the batsman with one delivery, more by the cumulative effect of previous deliveries; probing for weakness, adjusting field placings and maximising pitch conditions. A potted history features briefly, describing how the game spread through the colonies; and the festering desire to get one over on the mother country. But it is essentially a documentary exploring the psychology of competition.
All sport is to a certain extent played in the mind; but cricket is the supreme test of cerebral power.
The Edge is a riveting depiction of sport played at the highest level.
The mental challenge of reaching the pinnacle; staying there and managing the inevitable decline. The story begins in 2009 with the appointment of straight talking Zimbabwean coach Andy Flower. It tracks England's rebirth as top ranked test nation, bagging an Ashes win along the way. The highs, lows and inbetweens are brilliantly captured in candid interviews and stunning #cinematography. Cricket is so rarely seen on the big screen it was a treat to savour the visual drama of bat on ball.
However, the overriding memory of this excellent study is the mental impact on performing seals that show signs of fragility. The unforgivable sledging of England players during the 2010/11 Ashes series is proof of a vicious almost toxic environment. Players didn't feel able to show their human side for fear of perceived weakness. They spoke with great eloquence of the anxiety bred by success. Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott were particularly revealing in a stark analysis of their feelings. Trott demonstrated how quickly mind-sets can change; taking the crease is all about concentration: the absence of irrelevant thought. Such clarity is sometimes transient in competitive mode. One cutting remark or heavy defeat can have players praying for an injury such was the fear of failure. All that remains is the memory of comradeship and shared experience of being the best, however fleeting that feeling might be.
The film shows just how little we understand the human condition. Broken minds aren't as easily fixed as broken bones; and society needs to deal with the fall out.