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

By Ramachandra Guha

C. okay. Nayudu and Sachin Tendulkar certainly determine during this alluring historical past 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 supply 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 whilst India performs Pakistan. a tremendous, pioneering paintings, this can be additionally a beautifully-written meditation at the ramifications of recreation in society at huge, and on how recreation can impression either social and political history.

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The Hindus, in turn, were spurred by the Parsis. The students who formed the Hindu Cricket Club claimed they were ‘shabbily treated’ in the supply of bats and balls, the English schoolmasters making sure that these first reached their favoured subjects. The Hindu boys played in dhotisand without shoes, and made ‘all the mistakes of novices’. The Parsis were ‘much more advanced than they’, owing ‘to their greater imitation of everything European’. 2 As these clubs came up, one by one, players made their way with bat and ball to the Maidan, still the only large open space available for recreation.

It was ‘evidently meant to summarily silence the weak voice that was just endeavouring to be heard’. Undaunted, the cricketers addressed another petition to the Governor on 27 March 1882, where the facts were once more stated, and the conclusion drawn even less deferentially than before. Because of polo, said this petition, hundreds of native cricketers are forced to be crowded into a small space with all its disadvantages of imperfect and cramped play and to run the risk of being often hurt by balls both flying about in close proximity and unexpectedly breaking and bounding on account of the unevenness of the ground.

It is not clear whether the petition was ever read by the Governor. His Secretary cleverly directed it to the Army, under whose formal control the disputed land lay, and from whose ranks the polo players came. ’ To this Shapoorjee provides a striking gloss, when he says that the answer showed ‘nothing of the sportsman spirit’, but ‘everything of a warrior trained up to carry things at the point of the bayonet’. It was ‘evidently meant to summarily silence the weak voice that was just endeavouring to be heard’.

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