When West Indies ruled the world
West Indies were once known as the "calypso cricketers". It was a slightly patronising description which reflected the fact that while, at their best, they could provide rich entertainment, all too often they went home a beaten side.
Then something happened. They became good, very good indeed as the authoritative captaincy of Clive Lloyd turned them into a brilliant match-winning machine. They had the game's most dominant batsman, Viv Richards, and the most fearsome fast bowlers in the world.
The great era of Caribbean cricket, which began with their success in the inaugural World Cup of 1975 and continued into the early 1990s, is viewed with a greater sense of nostalgia now than ever before in light of the prolonged demise the game has endured in the Caribbean since then.
And so it is that when watching Stevan Riley's new film Fire in Babylon, which goes on general UK release on Friday, you cannot help but feel those glory days are lost in time, evoking a brand of cricket West Indies will never replicate.
Riley employs three narrative methods. Firstly, of course, he uses splendid footage of selected series in Australia and England, brought to life vividly on the big screen (it comes as a real treat if you have grown used to the pixellated, cramped confines of youtube for such memories).
The second story-telling device comes in the form of present-day interviews with the legendary West Indies players. Michael Holding, a professional pundit now, is wonderfully eloquent. Andy Roberts, his fellow former fast bowler, also provides intelligent insight. And you only have to look at Richards' eyes - still burning with the passion that seems to have escaped the current generation of West Indian cricketers - to feel the emotion of the time, and the drama of what became a crusade against the established powers.
Holding describes an early setback by revealing how he sat down by the wicket and wept in despair, out of sheer disbelief that "anyone could play the game of cricket this hard". But they responded, and how. For Richards "my bat was my sword".
The third narrative format is what takes this film firmly away from the realm of those prosaically efficient videos produced by the satellite sports channels.
Riley's added spice comes through the contributions of non-cricketers. There are interviews with Rastafarians - some famous like Bunny Wailer, others less so - lyrically opining about the wonder of Richards and Gordon Greenidge in their prime, or the poetic pace of the fast bowlers.
And, most surprisingly of all, there are some enchanting musical interludes. Various bands who one suspects would be familiar only to older Caribbean viewers are filmed performing gentle cricketing ballads. These mostly take place outdoors against carefully constructed backdrops.
Triumph through adversity is the film's principal theme. The players on the 1975-76 tour of Australia, where the story begins, recall the racism they suffered from the fans, and the pummelling they received on the pitch from the Australian fast bowlers Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.
West Indies were World Cup holders at the time, but the film pitches them as talented but fundamentally naive underdogs up against a ferocious, streetwise Australian side who handed out a no-nonsense 5-1 beating.
The helmetless Gordon Greenidge hooks England's Norman Cowans for four in the 1984 series (Getty)
The 1976 tour of England that followed was the breakthrough series. A home side led by Tony Greig was swept aside 3-0 with Holding and Roberts in full cry, despite a sweltering summer resulting in wickets that should have helped the batsmen.
From then on, it's pretty much a tale of unbridled success, taking in the 1979-80 series in Australia where revenge was sweetly obtained with a side now incorporating the likes of Desmond Haynes, Joel Garner and Colin Croft, and the famous "blackwash" tour of England in 1984, by which time the terraces at grounds like The Oval were overspilling with West Indian fans, obtains its rightful place too.
Riley is no cricket buff, and does not become buried in the complexity of individual matches and the kind of detail that would appeal only to anoraks, rather than the broader audience the film is hoping to capture. But that is not to say that there is an over-simplification of broader issues.
For example, appalled by the pocket-money salaries dished out by the West Indies Cricket Board, we see the players accept the invitation from media magnate Kerry Packer to play in his World Series in the late 1970s. These are the renegade matches in Australia where coloured clothing was worn for the first time - look out for some fetching all-pink kits.
The cricket also sits alongside a wider political background. The Caribbean itself faced something of an identity crisis as it struggled to deal with a serious economic slump once the post-independence honeymoon had run its course.
Meanwhile, racial tension was an unwelcome undercurrent in England in the early 1980s. No wonder those fans at The Oval, so close to some of the worst race riots in Brixton, responded so readily to the all-conquering efforts of the 1984 team.
The Brixton riots of 1981 provide a political subtext to Fire in Babylon (Getty)
The very title of the film puts further focus on race issues. Babylon's conquest of Jerusalem in antiquity left the Jews without a home, and is used in Rastafarian culture as a metaphor for what happened to Africans torn from their homeland by the slave trade.
Thus, Fire in Babylon inevitably reflects on how Richards famously turned down blank cheques, twice, to play on rebel tours of South Africa, in the early 1980s.
Most of the star names also steered well clear, but others did not and thus implicitly were seen to support the apartheid government.
One of the most poignant interviews comes when fast bowler Croft explains his decision to accept the South African rand. He starts off on the defensive, before appearing more rueful and apologetic later on.
On immediate reflection, the film appears to lack a neutral voice. There are no present-day interviews with any of the West Indies' adversaries of the time, for example.
But perhaps Riley's judgement is correct. This is not intended to be a dispassionate observation of cricket as played by the West Indians 30-odd years ago, it is about how it was in their own eyes.
Fire in Babylon is a joyous experience for a cricket fan, and I see no reason why it cannot be equally enjoyed by someone with a limited appreciation of the noble old game. Go and see it while you can. But before you do, a quick warning - you might never want to watch an Indian Premier League game again.
Listen to BBC Radio 5 live's West Indies cricket special from 2100-2230 BST on Wednesday 18 May.