Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cricketers

Star Wars: The Force Awakens releases worldwide (but not in India due to two big-budget Bollywood films that not a single Star Wars fan is likely to watch out of sheer spite for having delayed the release of The Force Awakens in India; or maybe that is just me) on December 18, 2015. The first film of this epic series, Star Wars (retroactively called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) was released in 1977. This was followed by Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 before the original trilogy concluded with Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1983. The prequels (Part I: The Phantom Menace, Part II: Attack of the Clones, and Part III: Revenge of the Sith) failed to live up to the original trilogy, but that has taken away none of the excitement generated by the latest instalment of arguably the greatest film franchise of all time. In anticipation of a new generation of Star Wars films, Shiamak Unwalla looks at which cricketers would be best as characters from the first six films. READ: A cricket murder XI: From victim to coroner to undertaker

Luke Skywalker: Virat Kohli

"Use the Force, Virat"
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

One of the protagonists of the series, Luke Skywalker is the prodigious son of Anakin Skywalker (more on him later) who is the New Hope as well as the Jedi that Returns. He carries the hopes of the Rebel Alliance on his shoulders. Likewise, Virat Kohli carries the hopes of an entire country (not that the BCCI is the Rebel Alliance; if anything it is the evil Galactic Empire). Kohli, like Luke, is the talented young prodigy who is likely to be the protagonist of the series.

Princess Leia: Ellyse Perry

"Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder."
“Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder!”

Deadly, intelligent, independent, and strong: epithets that can be used for both Princess Leia and Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry. Leia is the first of the major protagonists seen in the original series, and ends up being the Wonder Woman to Luke and Han Solo’s Superman and Batman. Ellyse has proven herself a more-than-capable warrior as well, having once bowled Australia to a World Cup victory over West Indies 2013 with a severely injured ankle. READ: If Dan Brown wrote about cricket – The Catapulta Code

Han Solo: Yuvraj Singh

"I know"
“I know.”

Ever the lovable rogue, Han Solo redefined the “cool, detached anti-hero” trope, while simultaneously transforming from a smuggler to a war hero over the course of the three films. Han was even frozen (literally) in carbonite, but managed to come back and lead the Alliance. It made actor Harrison Ford a household name, so much so that despite having played a character as iconic as Indiana Jones it is as Han Solo that Ford is best remembered. (PS: Han shot first!)

On the other hand is Yuvraj Singh, a folk hero in India’s cricketing lore. Yuvraj is first man to hit six sixes in an over off a fast bowler, the man who won India three World Cups (ICC Under-19 World Cup 2000, ICC World T20 2007, and ICC Cricket World Cup 2011), the only cricketer to appear in five World Cup finals (including World T20 and Under-19 World Cups), and the man who fought cancer to return to international cricket.

Chewbacca: Harbhajan Singh

"RRRAARRWHHGWWR"
“RRRAARRWHHGWWR.”

Han Solo’s trusted lieutenant, Chewbacca (Chewie for short) is a Wookie and co-pilot of the iconic Millennium Falcon, Han’s spaceship. Chewie is usually vocal (although sometimes incoherent) about things he does not like, and is not afraid to run headfirst into tough circumstances. Likewise, Harbhajan Singh is one of Yuvraj’s closest allies, both having played together for Punjab. Harbhajan is vocal as well (Andrew Symonds will tell you more) about things, and is unafraid of taking on the opposition.

Yoda: Ramakant Achrekar

"Do or do not. There is no try."
“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda is the wise old master who has nurtured many great Jedi and also a few Sith Lords. He has trained the likes of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the evil Count Dooku. He later trains Luke Skywalker as well. Yoda is arguably the greatest teacher in the Star Wars universe. On the other hand, anyone who knows of Sachin Tendulkar would have heard of Ramakant Achrekar as well; and it was not just Tendulkar who owed it all to Achrekar. Pravin Amre, Vinod Kambli (parallels could be drawn with Count Dooku), Ajit Agarkar, Sanjay Bangar, Balwinder Sandhu, and Chandrakant Pandit were all his students. It is only fitting that Yoda be compared with Achrekar.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: MS Dhoni

"Only a Sith deals in absolutes."
“Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Once an understudy to the great Qui-Gon Jinn (Rahul Dravid will be our pick here), Obi-Wan ‘Ben’ Kenobi was Luke’s first mentor. One of the finest Jedi Masters of all time, Obi-Wan was intelligent, resourceful, and toward the end he waged a lone battle. Dhoni too was Kohli’s first real mentor, and often waged a lone battle with the bat. Always calm and collected, Dhoni is the perfect Obi-Wan. READ: MS Dhoni: Albus Dumbledore of the cricketing world

Boba Fett: Mitchell Johnson

*says nothing but stares*
*says nothing but stares*

One of the most fearsome mercenaries in the universe, and capable of capturing no less than Han Solo, Boba Fett is the undeniable badass of the Star Wars saga. One of the most iconic characters of the films, Boba Fett is frequently cited as being deadly and dangerous. Mitchell Johnson was not quite as physically violent, but he made the ball do as much damage as a hand blaster. Like with Boba Fett and Han Solo, Johnson made Yuvraj’s life difficult during the 2013 series in India.

Darth Maul: Chris Gayle

"Prepare to become one with the Force, Jedi."
“Prepare to become one with the Force, Jedi.”

Unarguably the most memorable villain of the prequel series, Darth Maul wielded the famous double-ended lightsaber. His powers knew no bounds, and it took a huge effort for Obi-Wan to subdue him. Chris Gayle is no less of a powerhouse, and can use his bat with as destructive a power as Darth Maul’s lightsaber. The major difference perhaps lies in their agility; Maul has a lot of it, and Gayle has none.

Emperor Palpatine: N Srinivasan

"Let the hate flow through you!"
“Let the hate flow through you!”

The antagonist of the series and the master manipulator who pulls all the strings, Emperor Palpatine is the evil overlord to whom both Darth Maul and Darth Vader must answer. The Emperor killed democracy and formed an Empire instead, subjecting the universe to untold horrors. He was also the man who turned Anakin Skywalker to The Dark Side. N Srinivasan is not nearly as evil as The Emperor, but there are some parallels that are tough to ignore. READ: Cricket’s connection to Game of Thrones

Darth Vader: Ravi Shastri

"I find your lack of faith disturbing"
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Once believed to be the saviour of The Light Side of the Force, Darth Vader eventually becomes the right-hand man of The Emperor. However, he manages to redeem himself in the end and eventually lends balance to the Force. Darth Vader also tries his best to influence Luke Skywalker and turn him to the Dark Side. Vader is hands down the most recognisable character of the series, and his voice can still make people fear for their safety. On the other hand, Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli too share a close bond, but nothing nearly as sinister as that between Vader and Luke. However, Shastri’s voice and his status as a cricketing icon is comparable to that of Vader.

BONUS — Jabba the Hutt: Giles Clarke

"There will be no bargain, young Jedi. I shall enjoy watching you die."
“There will be no bargain, young Jedi. I shall enjoy watching you die.”

I’ll just leave this here… READ: MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli: Films that could be based on cricketers’ lives

With inputs from Sudatta Mukherjee. All images designed by Rakesh Sharma.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)