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By Ramachandra Guha

C. ok. Nayudu and Sachin Tendulkar obviously determine during this pleasing heritage of cricket in India, yet so too—in arresting and unforeseen ways—do Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Indian careers of these nice English cricketers Lord Harris and D. R. Jardine offer a window into the operations of Empire, whereas the extreme lifetime of India's first nice gradual bowler, Palwankar Baloo, introduces the still-unfinished fight opposed to caste discrimination. Later chapters discover the contest among Hindu and Muslim cricketers in colonial India and the intense passions now provoked while India performs Pakistan. a massive, pioneering paintings, this can be additionally a beautifully-written meditation at the ramifications of activity in society at huge, and on how game can impact either social and political history.

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Extra resources for A Corner Of A Foreign Field: The Indian History Of A British Sport

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In contrast to those other sports cricket was collective, longer lasting, and rather more ceremonial. The slow stateliness of the walk to the wicket, the interruptions between balls and overs, the graceful clothes that the players wore, the greenness of the grass, the understated gaiety of the lunch and tea intervals – all these made cricket an extended escape from India, from its chatter, its dirt, its smells and its peoples. The rulers would play, and the Indians serve. These respective roles were neatly delineated in a description of the Calcutta Cricket Club, circa 1840: On the cricket arena stand two spacious tents, not, however, like the paltry affairs bearing that name in England, but lined with fancy chintz, furnished with looking glasses, sofas and chairs, and each player’s wants, whether it be a light for his cigar, iced soda-water, or champagne, supplied by his turbaned attendant.

In 1851 the West Country parson James Pycroft suggested that The game of cricket, philosophically considered, is a standing panegyric on the English character: none but an orderly and sensible race of people would so amuse themselves. It calls into requisition all the cardinal virtues, some moralist would say. As with the Grecian games of old, the player must be sober and temperate. Patience, fortitude, and self-denial, the various bumps of order, obedience, and good humour, with an unruffled temper, are indispensable.

It is woven around biographies of men of influence, such as C. K. Nayudu, the first truly mass hero of sub-continental sport, each of whose sixes was interpreted as a nationalist answer to the British Raj. I have written of two famous English cricketers, Lord Harris and D. R. Jardine, whose time in India, now forgotten, complicates what we know of their character and of their Empire. Harris and Jardine were Oxford men, as was Abdul Hafeez Kardar, a cricketer who was also an ideologue, and through whose life one can read the coming into being of the nation of Pakistan.

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A Corner Of A Foreign Field: The Indian History Of A British Sport by Ramachandra Guha


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