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Spread of Cricket

Cricket is a colonial game, limited to countries that had once been part of the British Empire. In these colonies, cricket was established as a popular sport by white settlers in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, Kenya and India.

Playing cricket became a sign of superior social and racial status and the Afro-Caribbean population was discouraged from participating in organised 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. Even in this case, the members were light skinned Mulattos.

Success of cricket became a measure of racial equality and political progress in the Caribbean. Political leaders such as Forbes Burnham and Eric Williams saw in the game a chance for self-respect and international standing. The victory of West Indies over England in the first Test series in 1950 was celebrated as a national achievement, as a way of demonstrating that West Indians were the equals of white Englishmen. But the team was headed by a White Captain. The first Black captain for the Caribbean team was Frank Worrell in 1960.

The cricket fans know that watching a match involves taking sides. In a Ranji Trophy match, the spectators take loyalty to the city they belong to. When the country participates, the whole nation supports the home country. The first Indian cricket team was not organised on geographical basis.

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