Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cricket lovely cricket

As the almost forgotten Trinidadian social theorist and cricket fan C.L.R. James once remarked, "What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?" There was an incident in today's Test match (England vs. Pakistan) this afternoon, where the umpires accused the fielding Pakistan team of tampering with the ball. At tea, the visiting side refused to return to the field, prompting the umpires to declare England the winners.

Cricket has always been much more than a sport, interwoven as it is with the history of colonialism (football much more quickly lost any historical framework). The pure white outfit, the elegance of the occasion and the values imbued within the idea of the 'spirit of the game' have ensured that cricket has always carried a set of socio-historical resonances quite unlike any other sport. Cricket is laden with traces of other eras. It was only thirty years ago that there were two types of player in England, the 'players' and the 'gentlemen' - the latter being the officer class, the former being the rank corporals - in line with military hierarchy. Each class had his own entrance and separate changing facilities - an apartheid of class.

It will be interesting to see how this incident unravels itself in the next few days.. Click here for an interesting article on cricket's international context. The work of Mike Marqusee is also worth consulting.


Nkem 4:18 pm  

Jeremy, you read the situation like a book. I got into Bush House this morning, with the Cricket controversy at the top of the agenda. It took Khamenei to knock it off top spot. The building is buzzing as you can imagine, with the types that work here. Musharraf has weighed, but Blair stays silent. The silly has can now begin in earnest (Israel and Hezbollah put paid to that earlier in the summer).

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