History and Sport: The Story of Cricket
Question 1: Test cricket is unique game in many ways. Discuss some of the ways in which it is different from other team games. How are the peculiarities of Test cricket shaped by its historical beginnings as a village game?
Test cricket is a unique game in many ways. It was the first modern team game to give itself rules and regulations. Unlike other team games, it can go on for five days and still end in a draw. No other modern team sport takes even half as much time to complete. While most team games (such as hockey and football) specify the dimensions of the playing area, the laws of cricket do not state the specific dimensions of the playing field.
The reasons for such peculiarities of Test cricket are related to its historical beginnings as a village game. Originally, cricket matches had no time limit. In rural England, a match would go on till a side was bowled out twice. This corresponded to the life in the countryside. Village life was unlike the strictly time-oriented routines of industrial city life. The absence of any specifications about the dimensions of the playing field can also be related to the rural origins of cricket. It was originally played on country commons or public grounds, and the sizes of such grounds varied from one village to another. The rural and pre-industrial past of cricket is also indicated by the game's equipment. The bat, even today, is made of wood, as are the stumps and the bails. Likewise, the ball is made with leather, twine and cork.
Question 2: Describe one way in which in the nineteenth century, technology brought about a change in equipment and give one example where no change in equipment took place.
One way in which in the nineteenth century, technology brought about a change in cricketing equipment was by the introduction of pads and protective gloves. These protective equipments came forth as a result of the invention of vulcanised rubber.
However, cricketing equipment has more or less remained the same. The bats, even today, are made of wood. Also, they are not factory manufactured, but made by hand.
Question 3: Explain why cricket became popular in India and the West Indies. Can you give reasons why it did not become popular in countries in South America?
Cricket became popular in India and the West Indies because of its colonial background. British imperial officials used it as a symbol of racial and social superiority. They did not popularise the game for the masses. For the colonised, playing cricket implied being the racial equals of the British. Success at cricket came to imply a measure of racial equality and political progress. On the other hand, the game was not so popular in countries like those of South America since they were not dominated by imperial England.
Question 4: Give brief explanations for the following:
The Parsis were the first Indian community to set up a cricket club in India.
Mahatma Gandhi condemned the Pentangular tournament.
The name of the ICC was changed from the Imperial Cricket Conference to the International Cricket Conference.
The shift of the ICC headquarters from London to Dubai.
(a) The Parsis were a small trading community in close contact with the British, and hence, they were the first ones to westernise. During this process of westernisation, they founded the first Indian cricket club, in Bombay, in 1848, called the Oriental Cricket Club.
(b) Mahatma Gandhi condemned the Pentangular tournament because he viewed it as a tournament organised to propagate communal disharmony. This was disadvantageous at a time when Indian nationalists were trying to unite the diverse communities and regions of India into one secular whole.
(c) The name of the ICC was changed from the Imperial Cricket Conference to the International Cricket Conference due to the colonial implications of the former. This change in name happened as late as 1965. Till then, England and Australia exercised monopoly over the regulatory body. However, reflecting the changes in world affairs, the ICC too underwent changes. The privileged positions of England and Australia were scrapped in favour of equal membership for all test-playing nations. The new name, thus, served to emphasise this equality.
(d) The shift of the ICC headquarters from London to Dubai happened on account of India’s location in South Asia. Since India has the largest viewership and market for cricket, the balance of power in cricket has shifted from the colonial domain to the decolonised domain. The shifting of headquarters symbolised and formally marked the end of English or imperialist domination over the game.
Question 5: How have advances in technology, especially television technology, affected the development of contemporary cricket?
Advances in technology, especially television technology, have affected the development of contemporary cricket by broadening the viewership and popularity of the game. Coloured uniforms, protective equipments, field regulations, and day-night, limited-overs matches have all helped this pre-industrial, rural game to adapt to the changing modern world. The worldwide reach of satellite television has widened the audience for cricket. The presence of a wide-ranging, mass audience has made cricket a money-making venture for advertisers, television channels and cricket boards. Cricketers too have benefited from the way cricket has been marketed through the media; their better earnings and celebrity status prove this fact.