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The Englishness of Cricket?

A short presentation showing how British Imperialism has affected cricket in India.

Ben Walters

on 31 May 2010

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Transcript of The Englishness of Cricket?

The Englishness of Cricket: How British Imperialism affected sport
around the world By Ben Walters Introduction: During the late 16th century, the British empire was starting to become established around the world. By 1922, they held a quarter of the land area of the world, a quarter of the population, and a third of the total area of the world. This kind of colonization left massive differences on everything it touches, be it new people, new styles, or new ideas. One of these ideas was the idea of cricket.
Cricket started to be played in England around the 16th century, during the time that England was starting to be interested about the outside world. This alignment allowed for Cricket to spread across the growing British Empire, grabbing the enthusiasm of the invaders, and letting the invaded catch it off of them. This gave the sport of Cricket a unique possibility to grow all around the world. This is why you have modern day cricket played in places such as England, Australia, the West Indies, and, most famously, India. (India National Cricket Team, wikipedia.com)
The introduction to cricket was a slow process, taking around a generation. Football, track and field, and cricket, were all played at the British built schools. So, after these children grew to become adults, cricket was the primary sport throughout the Empire. At first, people would look towards the British for expertise on the game, but it didn't take long for the students to overcome the teachers. But until recently, many Indians would still look towards the English, or the Australian, for written expertise, or literature, despite being generally better at the game. ("Cricket and Race", Williams)
Now, it's fairly obvious that India is much better at the game at cricket compared to the English, with masses playing it, and the most enthusiasm with it. Cricket, in England, is viewed as a boring old mans game, whereas in India, it's viewed as the most exciting thing around. The game has been adapted to suit this mentality, with the more exciting T20, as opposed to the original Test matches, or having cheerleaders and music playing at the matches. In this exhibit, I'll try to show you how this adaption came into being, and how it all started to begin with. India will be my case study.
Cricket at Naina Tal Road Cricket at Calcutta Description: Road Cricket in Calcutta (Kolkata) December 1970
Place of Origin: Calcutta
Date of Creation: December 1970
Found at: http://oldindianphotos.blogspot.com/search/label/Cricket

Description: View of a cricket match in progress at Naina Tal
Place of Origin: Naina Tal
Date of Creation: 1899
Found at: http://oldindianphotos.blogspot.com/search/label/Cricket These two pictures are a complete contrast to each other. The first one represents English cricket, as it's taken at a European club in India, and shows cricket being played the English way. It's a much slower game, and you can see that no one's moving, just waiting. There are still spectators, although there aren't very many. It looks very professional, and is reasonably similar to how the game is played today in England. In the background, you can also see some buildings, which don't look India at all. The players all Indian.
The second picture shows an "Indian" game of cricket. There are people playing on the street, with people walking past the game, just meters away from the game. It all looks very casual, with no one in the proper positions, and, to me, looks a bit chaotic. There are a lot of people standing around the wickets, hoping for some action, and it looks very unorganised.
These two photos show the influence on British Imperialism on sport very easily. In the first photo, with is from 1899, you can see a very English game, with a lot of English influence, very similar to how the game was played in England. At this time, the English were still occupying India. Then in the second game, on the road, it's completely changed. It's just a game with friends, it's very casual, the rules look like they've been adapted to suit their 'pitch' and everyone seems to be having fun. By this time, the English had left India, along with the vast influence that they had before.
From how the first picture looked English, but the second looked Indian, you can actually distinguish between the game that was forced on India by the English, with all of their influence, and how the Indian public want to play cricket. This shows how much of a push the British Empire had on it's countries, changing the game by that much!
Description: Eden Park Cricket Stadium
Place of Origin: Auckland
Date of Creation: December 25, 2006
Found at: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://farm1.static.flickr.com/175/365540573_ac263c3b8a.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.flickr.com/photos/dreamtheater/365540573/&usg=__y0BQNflcsNwzVQye6RQvIPHoxLg=&h=332&w=500&sz=130&hl=en&start=73&tbnid=F0uWzmxveHqUkM:&tbnh=86&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3DEnglish%2B%2522Cricket%2BStadium%2522%26start%3D60%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26ndsp%3D20%26gbv%3D1%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1
Description: M. Chinnaswamy Stadium
Place of Origin: Bengaluru
Date of Creation: Not said
Found at: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.cricketworld4u.com/grounds/gifs/00011.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.cricketworld4u.com/grounds/00011.php&usg=__gCmM6ZxTWL5sSiM6lBy3V5UwJ2Q=&h=205&w=231&sz=25&hl=en&start=410&tbnid=45lRT-bc-LutsM:&tbnh=96&tbnw=108&prev=/images%3Fq%3DIndian%2B%2522Cricket%2BStadium%2522%26start%3D400%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26ndsp%3D20%26gbv%3D1%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1
These two pictures give proof to some things said before. In the two pictures, there is, on the left, an English cricket pitch, and on the right, an Indian cricket pitch, both from modern times. They are vastly different, once you get beneath the surface of the stadiums. They both have grass, a pitch, but even that's different. The English one is recently cut, clean, presentable, whereas the Indian one just looks like normal grass, with an Indian flag on top of part of it, for decoration. Then the stadium itself, advertising is similar, with wraparound boards, but billboards in England, but not India. The seating you can't see, although you can see that it's full in India, but the English match is almost empty. The Indian fans are screaming in their seats, as well, and the English ones are just sitting there, so you can see where the sport is more preferred. An extra feature that you can see in the Indian picture would be the presence of cheerleaders, which would appeal only to the audience in India, English cricket supporters would not be the target audience of this feature. Those are the main similarities and differences.
The ones that I'm going to talk about are the cheerleaders, and the fans. The cheerleaders, to me, are a massive difference between how the two cultures view cricket. In England, generally, cricket is viewed as something of the past, to be proud of when we win, but not followed religiously, or with much excitement. It's always been considered quite boring, especially Test matches, which are designed to go on for days. But then in India, cricket is the most exciting thing ever. People follow both the sport and the players lives, and the IPL beat is still the most popular ringtone around, weeks after the tournament. This view is proven by the fans. In England, they are a bored few, waiting for the match to start, but in India, in stark contrast, they are a raucous loud array of young male adults, screaming at their favourite players to do their best, with popular club music coming from the speakers, with smiles on their faces. The cheerleaders are just auxiliary facts, they help me prove what I'm saying. Cheerleaders are supposed to be sexy, and to appeal to young male adolescents, which just shows that they are the people watching the cricket here.
My final exhibit is simply a collection of random things I've found whilst researching, which I'm going to talk about during my description. I'm doing this because, to properly show how the English has affected sport in India, you would want to see how Indian cricket was when it first started, when it was still an English game. But there is no description of the old game on the internet, not on any site I looked at, and this 'odd socks idea' work so much better.

Another thing which I'm going to talk about would be how Indian competitive cricket first caught on. The first Indian teams were Parsi, closely followed by Hindu teams. The Hindu teams only started because they didn't want to be behind their Parsi counterparts. This is due to imperialism, as the British are famous for splitting India up, dividing and conquering, and the animosity those two cultures had was largely due to the English. They were already very enthusiastic, and competitive, already more so than the English. By this point, Indians had already taken the game into their own hands, having been exposed to cricket for over 100 years, as this happened around 1850.
The first thing that I'm going to talk about would be the idea that cricket is an Indian game, discovered by the English (Boria Majumdar, blurb). This quote wasn't written by the author, it's an old joke, and has been around for a long time. It shows how the Indians knew that they were better than the English at cricket, for a while. After the quote, he then talks about how it is both in skill, and passion, that the quote refers to, which is also valid. And the third idea that I'm analysing will be the fact that no one has recorded how the Indian cricket game has differed from the original times to now. As it isn't mentioned, it would be assumed that it doesn't differ. So if it didn't differ, then the game that the English gave them would not have been changed for years and years. This is very strong evidence of exactly how much the British Empire influenced its countries. To conclude, the British Empire left a very strong imprint of its ideas of sport in its conquered countries. In India, there is no evidence of the game differing that I've found before 1948, which means that the British didn't just influence Indian sport, it controlled it with an iron fist, keeping the game of cricket exactly how they played it. But then, as soon as the British left, the Indians changed the game of cricket forever. They played it everywhere, and now, it seems like most cricket in India is played on the street. They don't specific boundaries, they don't have grass pitches, they don't have position like Mid Wicket, or Off Stump. Yet, despite their customisation of the game, they still play some of the best cricket in the world.
This impression was left in various ways, namely through schools. This was very effective, as younger children are very impressionable, and this is why cricket was so well remembered, even after the British left. The other well remembered sport was field hockey, another sport taught in schools.
There are many ways in which British Imperialism has affected sport around the world. The main way would be the actual sports being played. This has had effects everywhere that the British Empire ever was, and without those impacts, the modern world would be a different place.
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"Cricket History – History of Indian Cricket: Zeecric." Latest Cricket News, Live Cricket Scores, Updates, Statistics, ODI, Test, T20 on Zeecric.Com. Web. 26 May 2010. <http://cricket.zeenews.com/History-of-Indian-cricket.aspx?nid=76>.

Graves, Benjamin. "Beyond a Boundary: Cricket and West Indian Self-Determination." Brown University '98 (1998). Post Colonial Web. Web. 6 May 2010. <http://www.postcolonialweb.org/poldiscourse/james/james1.html>.

"India National Cricket Team." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India_national_cricket_team#History>.

Johnson, James. "The Effects of British Imperialism on the Modern World - by James Johnson - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Helium. Web. 06 May 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/1729282-benefits-of-the-british-empire>.

Majumdar, Boria. Lost Histories of Indian Cricket: Battles off the Pitch. London: Routledge, 2006. Google Books. Google. Web. <http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=n17SH5yNpsoC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false>.

Malcom, Dominic, Jon Gemmell, and Nalin Mehta, eds. The Changing Face of Cricket: From Imperial to Global Fame. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Routledge. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415443296/>.

Mangan, J. A., and Fan Hong. Sport in Asian Society: past and Present. London: F. Cass, 2003. Google Books. Google. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ob2zM78cLhYC&pg=PA186&dq=%22mihir+bose%22+%22history+of+Indian+cricket%22&hl=en&ei=6n7jS-O7NYO1rAee-vWRAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CGIQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=%22mihir%20bose%22%20%22history%20of%20Indian%20cricket%22&f=false>.

Road Cricket in Calcutta (Kolkata) December 1970. 1970. Photograph. Calcutta. Old Indian Photos. By Larry Burrows. Blogspot, 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://oldindianphotos.blogspot.com/search/label/Cricket>.

Toddart, Brian. "Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire."JSTOR 30.4 (1988): 649-73. JSTOR Trusted Archives for Scholarship. JSTOR, Oct. 1988. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/178928?seq=3>.

View of a cricket match in progress on the sports ground at Naini Tal. 1970. Photograph. Calcutta. Old Indian Photos. By Larry Burrows. Blogspot, 10 Apr. 2009. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://oldindianphotos.blogspot.com/search/label/Cricket>.

Williams, Jack. Cricket and Race. Oxford: Berg, 2001. Google Books. Google. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ABMO0rVMCzoC&pg=PA11&dq=%22mihir+bose%22+%22history+of+Indian+cricket%22&hl=en&ei=6n7jS-O7NYO1rAee-vWRAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CF0Q6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=%22mihir%20bose%22%20%22history%20of%20Indian%20cricket%22&f=false>.

Thank you for watching my presentation!
Curated by Ben Walters
Full transcript