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Compare the other sports with that of cricket.

Test cricket can be played for five days or more. No other sport takes a time like this. Football is generally played in one and a half hour. Baseball which is the shortened version of modern cricket is completed in nine innings.


What is the curious characteristic of cricket?

The curious characteristic of cricket is that the length of the pitch is specified – 22 yards – but the size or shape of the ground is not. Most other team sports, such as hockey and football lay down the dimensions of the playing area: cricket does not. Grounds can be oval like the Adelaide Oval or nearly circular, like Chepauk in Chennai. A six at the Melbourne Cricket Ground needs to clear much more ground than a lofted shot for the same reward at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.


Mention the curious characteristic of cricket.

Cricket was the earliest modern team sport to be codified, which is another way of saying that cricket gave itself rules and regulations so that it could be played in a uniform and standardised way well before team games like soccer and hockey. The first written ‘Laws of Cricket’ were drawn up in 1744. They stated, ‘the principals shall choose from amongst the gentlemen present two umpires who shall absolutely decide all disputes. The stumps must be 22 inches high and the bail across them six inches. The ball must be between 5 and 6 ounces, and the two sets of stumps 22 yards apart’. There were no limits on the shape or size of the bat. It appears that 40 notches or runs was viewed as a very big score, probably due to the bowlers bowling quickly at shins unprotected by pads. The world’s first cricket club was formed in Hambledon in the 1760s and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded in 1787. In 1788, the MCC published its first revision of the laws and became the guardian of cricket’s regulations.


What were the changes that were brought by MCC in the 18th century.

The MCC’s revision of the laws brought in a series of changes in the game that occurred in the second half of the eighteenth century. During the 1760s and 1770s it became common to pitch the ball through the air, rather than roll it along the ground. This change gave bowlers the options of length, deception through the air, plus increased pace. It also opened new possibilities for spin and swing. In response, batsmen had to master timing and shot selection. One immediate result was the replacement of the curved bat with the straight one. All of this raised the premium on skill and reduced the influence of rough ground and brute force. The weight of the ball was limited to between 5½ to 5¾ ounces, and the width of the bat to four inches. The latter ruling followed an innings by a batsman who appeared with a bat as wide as the wicket! In 1774, the first leg-before law was published. Also around this time, a third stump became common. By 1780, three days had become the length of a major match, and this year also saw the creation of the first six-seam cricket ball.

While many important changes occurred during the nineteenth century (the rule about wide balls was applied, the exact circumference of the ball was specified, protective equipment like pads and gloves became available, boundaries were introduced where previously all shots had to be run and, most importantly, overarm bowling became legal) cricket remained a pre-industrial sport that matured during the early phase of the Industrial Revolution, the late eighteenth century.


Cricket both changed with changing times and yet fundamentally remained true to its origins in rural England. Justify the statement.

Cricket’s most important tools are all made of natural, pre-industrial materials. The bat is made of wood as are the stumps and the bails. The ball is made with leather, twine and cork. Even today both bat and ball are handmade, not industrially manufactured. The material of the bat changed slightly over time. Once it was cut out of a single piece of wood. Now it consists of two pieces, the blade which is made out of the wood of the willow tree and the handle which is made out of cane that became available as European colonialists and trading companies established themselves in Asia. Unlike golf and tennis, cricket has refused to remake its tools with industrial or man-made materials: plastic, fibre glass and metal have been firmly rejected. Australian cricketer Dennis Lillee tried to play an innings with an aluminium bat, only to have it outlawed by the umpires.

But in the matter of protective equipment, cricket has been influenced by technological change. The invention of vulcanised rubber led to the introduction of pads in 1848 and protective gloves soon afterwards, and the modern game would be unimaginable without helmets made out of metal and synthetic lightweight materials.


Write about the organisation of cricket in England.

The organisation of cricket in England reflected the nature of English society. The rich who could afford to play it for pleasure were called amateurs and the poor who played it for a living were called professionals. The rich were amateurs for two reasons. One, they considered sport a kind of leisure. To play for the pleasure of playing and not for money was an aristocratic value. Two, there was not enough money in the game for the rich to be interested. The wages of professionals were paid by patronage or subscription or gate money. The game was seasonal and did not offer employment the year round. Most professionals worked as miners or in other forms of working class employment in winter, the off-season.

The social superiority of amateurs was built into the customs of cricket. Amateurs were called Gentlemen while professionals had to be content with being described as Players. They even entered the ground from different entrances. Amateurs tended to be batsmen, leaving the energetic, hardworking aspects of the game, like fast bowling, to the professionals. That is partly why the laws of the game always give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman. Cricket is a batsman’s game because its rules were made to favour ‘Gentlemen’, who did most of the batting. The social superiority of the amateur was also the reason the captain of a cricket team was traditionally a batsman: not because batsmen were naturally better captains but because they were generally Gentlemen. Captains of teams, whether club teams or national sides, were always amateurs. It was not till the 1930s that the English Test team was led by a professional, the Yorkshire batsman, Len Hutton.


‘Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton’ - Explain this statement.

This statement means that Britain’s military success was based on the values taught to schoolboys in its public schools. Eton was the most famous of these schools. The English boarding school was the institution that trained English boys for careers in the military, the civil service and the church, the three great institutions of imperial England. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, men like Thomas Arnold, headmaster of the famous Rugby School and founder of the modern public school system, saw team sport like cricket and rugby not just as outdoor play, but as an organised way of teaching English boys the discipline, the importance of hierarchy, the skills, the codes of honour and the leadership qualities that helped them build and run the British empire. Victorian empire builders justified the conquest of other countries as an act of unselfish social service, by which backward peoples were introduced to the civilising influence of British law and Western knowledge. Cricket helped to confirm this self-image of the English elite by glorifying the amateur ideal, where cricket was played not for victory or profit, but for its own sake, in the spirit of fair play.


How was cricket popularised?

While some English team games like hockey and football became international games, played all over the world, cricket remained a colonial game, limited to countries that had once been part of the British empire. The pre-industrial oddness of cricket made it a hard game to export. It took root only in countries that the British conquered and ruled. In these colonies, cricket was established as a popular sport either by white settlers (as in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies and Kenya) or by local elites who wanted to copy the habits of their colonial masters, as in India.

While British imperial officials brought the game to the colonies, they made little effort to spread the game, especially in colonial territories where the subjects of empire were mainly non-white, such as India and the West Indies. Here, playing cricket became a sign of superior social and racial status, and the Afro-Caribbean population was discouraged from participating in organized club cricket, which remained dominated by white plantation owners and their servants. The first non-white club in the West Indies was established towards the end of the nineteenth century, and even in this case its members were light-skinned mulattos. So while black people played an enormous amount of informal cricket on beaches, in back alleys and parks, club cricket till as late as the 1930s was dominated by white elites.

Despite the exclusiveness of the white cricket elite in the West Indies, the game became hugely popular in the Caribbean. Success at cricket became a measure of racial equality and political progress.


How was cricket in colonial India organised?

Cricket in colonial India was organised on the principle of race and religion. The first record we have of cricket being played in India is from 1721, an account of recreational cricket played by English sailors in Cambay. The first Indian club, the Calcutta Cricket Club, was established in 1792. Through the eighteenth century, cricket in India was almost wholly a sport played by British military men and civil servants in all-white clubs and gymkhanas. Playing cricket in the privacy of these clubs was more than just fun: it was also an escape from the strangeness, discomfort and danger of their stay in India. Indians were considered to have no talent for the game and certainly
not meant to play it. But they did.


Describe why Parsi Gymkhana was established.

The origins of Indian cricket, that is, cricket played by Indians are to be found in Bombay and the first Indian community to start playing the game was the small community of Zoroastrians, the Parsis. Brought into close contact with the British because of their interest in trade and the first Indian community to westernize, the Parsis founded the first Indian cricket club, the Oriental Cricket Club in Bombay in 1848. Parsi clubs were funded and sponsored by Parsi businessmen like the Tatas and the Wadias. The white cricket elite in India offered no help to the enthusiastic Parsis. In fact, there was a quarrel between the Bombay Gymkhana, a whites-only club, and Parsi cricketers over the use of a public park. The Parsis complained that the park was left unfit for cricket because the polo ponies of the Bombay Gymkhana dug up the surface. When it became clear that the colonial authorities were prejudiced in favour of their white compatriots, the Parsis built their own gymkhana to play cricket in.

The rivalry between the Parsis and the racist Bombay Gymkhana had a happy ending for these pioneers of Indian cricket. A Parsi team beat the Bombay Gymkhana at cricket in 1889, just four years after the foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885, an organization that was lucky to have amongst its early leaders the great Parsi statesman and intellectual Dadabhai Naoroji.

The establishment of the Parsi Gymkhana became a precedent for other Indians who in turn established clubs based on the idea of religious community. By the 1890s, Hindus and Muslims were busy gathering funds and support for a Hindu Gymkhana and an Islam Gymkhana. The British did not consider colonial India as a nation. They saw it as a collection of castes and races and religious communities and gave themselves the credit for unifying the sub- continent. In the late nineteenth century, many Indian institutions and movements were organised around the idea of religious community because the colonial state encouraged these divisions and was quick to recognise communal institutions.


Describe the role played by Parsi Gymkhana in Indian cricket.

This history of gymkhana cricket led to first-class cricket being organised on communal and racial lines. The teams that played colonial India’s greatest and most famous first-class cricket tournament did not represent regions, as teams in today’s Ranji Trophy currently do, but religious communities. The tournament was initially called the Quadrangular, because it was played by four teams: the Europeans, the Parsis, the Hindus and the Muslims. It later became the Pentangular when a fifth team was added, namely, the Rest, which comprised all the communities left over, such as the Indian Christians. For example, Vijay Hazare, a Christian, played for the Rest.

By the late 1930s and early 1940s, journalists, cricketers and political leaders had begun to criticize the racial and communal foundations of the Pentangular tournament. The distinguished editor of the newspaper the Bombay Chronicle, S.A. Brelvi, the famous radio commentator A.F.S. Talyarkhan and India’s most respected political figure, Mahatma Gandhi, condemned the Pentangular as a communally divisive competition that was out of place in a time when nationalists were trying to unite India’s diverse population. A rival first-class tournament on regional lines, the National Cricket Championship (later named the Ranji Trophy), was established but not until Independence did it properly replace the Pentangular. The colonial state and its divisive conception of India was the rock on which the Pentangular was built. It was a colonial tournament and it died with the Raj.


Describe the modern transformation of the game.

Modern cricket is dominated by Tests and one-day internationals, played between national teams. The players who become famous, who live on in the memories of cricket’s public, are those who have played for their country. The players Indian fans remember from the era of the Pentangular and the Quadrangular are those who were fortunate enough to play Test cricket. C.K. Nayudu, an outstanding Indian batsman of his time, lives on in the popular imagination when some of his great contemporaries like Palwankar Vithal and Palwankar Baloo have been forgotten because his career lasted long enough for him to play Test cricket for India while theirs did not.

Even though Nayudu was past his cricketing prime when he played for India in its first Test matches against England starting in 1932, his place in India’s cricket history is assured because he was the country’s first Test captain. India entered the world of Test cricket in 1932, a decade and a half before it became an independent nation. This was possible because Test cricket from its origins in 1877 was organised as a contest between different parts of the British empire, not sovereign nations. The first Test was played between England and Australia when Australia was still a white settler colony, not even a self-governing dominion. Similarly, the small countries of the Caribbean that together make up the West Indies team were British colonies till well after the Second World War.


Describe the effect of decolonisation on the sports.

Decolonisation, or the process through which different parts of European empires became independent nations, began with the independence of India in 1947 and continued for the next half a century. This process led to the decline of British influence in trade, commerce, military affairs, international politics and, inevitably, sporting matters. But this did not happen at once; it took a while for the relative unimportance of postimperial Britain to be reflected in the organisation of world cricket. Even after Indian independence kick-started the disappearance of the British empire, the regulation of international cricket remained the business of the Imperial Cricket Conference ICC. The ICC, renamed the International Cricket Conference as late as 1965, was dominated by its foundation members, England and Australia, which retained the right of veto over its proceedings. Not till 1989 was the privileged position of England and Australia scrapped in favour of equal membership.

The colonial flavour of world cricket during the 1950s and 1960s can be seen from the fact that England and the other white commonwealth countries, Australia and New Zealand, continued to play Test cricket with South Africa, a racist state that practised a policy of racial segregation which, among other things, barred non-whites (who made
up the majority of South Africa’s population) from representing that country in Test matches. Test-playing nations like India, Pakistan and the West Indies boycotted South Africa, but they did not have the necessary power in the ICC to debar that country from Test cricket. That only came to pass when the political pressure to isolate South
Africa applied by the newly decolonised nations of Asia and Africa combined with liberal feeling in Britain and forced the English cricket authorities to cancel a tour by South Africa in 1970.


How was cricket commercialized?

The 1970s were the decade in which cricket was transformed: it was a time when a traditional game evolved to fit a changing world. If 1970 was notable for the exclusion of South Africa from international cricket, 1971 was a landmark year because the first one-day international was played between England and Australia in Melbourne. The enormous popularity of this shortened version of the game led to the first World Cup being successfully staged in 1975. Then in 1977, even as cricket celebrated 100 years of Test matches, the game was changed forever, not by a player or cricket administrator, but by a businessman.

Kerry Packer, an Australian television tycoon who saw the moneymaking potential of cricket as a televised sport, signed up fifty-one of the world’s leading cricketers against the wishes of the national cricket boards and for about two years staged unofficial Tests and One-Day internationals under the name of World Series Cricket. While Packer’s ‘circus’ as it was then described folded up after two years, the innovations he introduced during this time to make cricket more attractive to television audiences endured and changed the nature of the game.


How was satellite communication useful in the spread of cricket?

Television coverage changed cricket. It expanded the audience for the game by beaming cricket into small towns and villages. It also broadened cricket’s social base. Children who had never previously had the chance to watch international cricket because they lived outside the big cities, where top-level cricket was played, could now watch and learn by imitating their heroes.

The technology of satellite television and the world wide reach of multi-national television companies created a global market for cricket. Matches in Sydney could now be watched live in Surat. This simple fact shifted the balance of power in cricket: a process that had been begun by the break-up of the British Empire was taken to its logical conclusion by globalisation. Since India had the largest viewership for the game amongst the cricket-playing nations and the largest market in the cricketing world, the game’s centre of gravity shifted to South Asia. This shift was symbolized by the shifting of the ICC headquarters from London to tax-free Dubai.

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