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Reflections on cricket, culture and meaning
Brian Stoddart

The cultural landscape of cricket alone signifies the game's centrality in both imperial and post-colonial social construction. Implicit in the term 'cultural landscape' is the idea that cricket everywhere goes along with art, literature, music, scholarship, religion, industry, business, commerce and politics to produce a distinctive representation of a country or nation state. In cities around the world 'the cricket ground' is a shorthand reference to a site where, regularly, thousands of people gather to participate in civic ritual. For most cricketing nations, the first development stage was completed by an official test victory over England, the 'Home' of cricket and social development alike. South Africa was excluded from the cricket world for a long time, was reintroduced over-quickly after the restoration of democracy in the form of President Mandela and, after brief initial success, had to begin rebuilding.

in The imperial game
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Brian Stoddart

In some ways many of the more interesting stories about cricket and culture occurred outside those areas of British control. In the United States cricket survived what was the great cultural schism of 1776 and lasted almost until the mid nineteenth century as an important, if localised, symbol of a British link in some quarters. Tours into the north American centres from both England and Australia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries helped keep interest in cricket there alive, but it remained a niche sport. In Malaysia, cricket came in with the British administrators, traders and teachers, and some senior members of the service (like Sir Frank Swettenham) were thought to favour officers who had cricketing skills. In 1900, the Germans assumed authority over Samoa and they, in particular, were worried by the cricket movement and began legislating against it.

in The imperial game
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Brian Stoddart

From its beginnings in semi-organised form through its unfolding into a contemporary internationalised structure, Caribbean cricket has been marked by a tight affiliation with complex social processing in the islands and states which make up the West Indies. For the white elite, cricket was a substantial bond with the culture of 'Home'. Even though many families had been in the Caribbean for two or three hundred years, their cultural affiliations were still with England rather than with any emergent hybridity. For non-white Caribbean clubs the struggle for recognition and social positioning was as intense, if not more so. In the later nineteenth century, a significant number of Caribbean players found work in professional leagues in North America while, from the 1920s onwards, Caribbean players were a major presence in English league cricket.

in The imperial game
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Cricket, Culture and Society

Sports history offers many profound insights into the character and complexities of modern imperial rule. This book examines the fortunes of cricket in various colonies as the sport spread across the British Empire. It helps to explain why cricket was so successful, even in places like India, Pakistan and the West Indies where the Anglo-Saxon element remained in a small minority. The story of imperial cricket is really about the colonial quest for identity in the face of the colonisers' search for authority. The cricket phenomenon was established in nineteenth-century England when the Victorians began glorifying the game as a perfect system of manners, ethics and morals. Cricket has exemplified the colonial relationship between England and Australia and expressed imperialist notions to the greatest extent. In the study of the transfer of imperial cultural forms, South Africa provides one of the most fascinating case studies. From its beginnings in semi-organised form through its unfolding into a contemporary internationalised structure, Caribbean cricket has both marked and been marked by a tight affiliation with complex social processing in the islands and states which make up the West Indies. New Zealand rugby demonstrates many of the themes central to cricket in other countries. While cricket was played in India from 1721 and the Calcutta Cricket Club is probably the second oldest cricket club in the world, the indigenous population was not encouraged to play cricket.