Cricket and Race

Cricket and Race

Cricket and Race

Cricket and Race

Synopsis

Nominated for Cricket Society Book of the Year Award 2002.Winner of the 2001 Lord Aberdare Prize for Sports History.Any attempt to understand the nature of social relations and cultural identities in modern Britain must consider the significance of sport. Sports have had a crucial role in sustaining national consciousness. Because cricket has so often been regarded as a symbol of Englishness, especially amongst those with economic and political influence, the role of race in the sport provides penetrating insights into English national identity, from the belief in racial superiority underlying imperial expansion through to more recent debates about sporting links with South Africa, and racial animosities at test matches.This book examines cricket and race in England over the past century and a half. The author considers how far and in what respects cricket has reflected the racist assumptions of whites, and its role as an arena for ethnic conflict as well as understanding and harmony in England. In the first half of the twentieth century, commentary on the playing abilities of West Indian cricketers was often superficially laudatory but condescending in tone, and argued that racial characteristics would limit their achievements as players. More recently, campaigns to combat racism in the sport and the contributions of African-Caribbeans and Asians to recreational cricket show how central cricket is to appraisals of the cultural factors that have shaped ethnic relations. This absorbing book provides an incisive overview of the interconnections among cricket, race and culture.

Excerpt

The presence of non-whites in English cricket became a little stronger between the wars. Test match status was granted to the West Indies and India. The West Indies played their first test match against England at Lord's in 1928 and had further test tours to England in 1933 and 1939. In the winters of 1929–30 and 1934–5 England played four match test series in the West Indies. India played one test match against England in England in 1932 and three in 1936 and in 1933–4 England played three test matches against India in India. Neither the West Indies nor India were accorded five match series in England which suggests they were not considered to present much of a challenge to England. The sporting press between the wars did not consider test series against the West Indies, India or New Zealand equivalent to matches against Australia. In January 1930 England teams played two test matches at the same timeone against New Zealand and the other against the West Indies. India did not win a test match against England between the wars and whilst the West Indies did not win a test match in England until 1950, the West Indies won one of the 1929–30 tests and by winning two tests to England's one in 1934–5 took the series, but this did not provoke great concern in England, probably because the England touring party had not included all of England's leading players.

Very few who were not white played county cricket between the wars. Two Asian princes-Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji, a nephew of Ranjitsinhji, and Iftikhar Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi-played for England between the wars. Both had privileged backgrounds and played first-class cricket as amateurs. Duleepsinhji was educated at Cheltenham College and Cambridge University where he gained a cricket blue. From 1924 until 1932 he played for Sussex and was the captain in 1931 and 1932. He played for England in 12 test matches. In the 1950s he was the Indian High Commissioner to Australia. Pataudi was an Oxford cricket blue and between 1932 and 1938 played for Worcestershire. He played three times for England between 1932 and 1934. In 1946 he captained India against England. Ranjitsinhji, Duleepsinhji and Pataudi each scored a century in their first test matches against Australia. In 1929 Duleepsinhji did not play against South Africa after the first test. Duleepsinhji believed that he was not selected for the Gentlemen and Players match, to be held just before the third test, because ‘people of great influence’ had told the England selectors that he must not be chosen and that if he had scored a century, public opinion would have forced his recall to the England team. The South African . . .

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