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『さまよえる近代』 第5章(前半) レジュメ

『さまよえる近代』第5章 (前半)

Decolonization of Indian Cricket




1.1 Introduction

The word “decolonization” means “action of changing from colonial to independent status”. The author of this lesson believes that decolonization is not simply getting rid of the habits and colonial mode of life but it is a dialog with the colonial past. This is more evident in the ever-changing nature of cricket especially in those countries that were once ruled by British Empire. After decolonization, typically there have been effects of colonial culture, language, art, ideologies about politics and economics. Similarly aspects of British heritage took deep roots in the colony. India is such a country that was once ruled by British regime but got its freedom in 20th century. Though Indians were ruled by British Empire for more that 150 years, today in the area of politics and economics the Indians are reaching out more towards United States, Middle East and rest of the Asian world. However there is a part in Indian culture that is derived from England is “Cricket”. Author further states that in the colonies occupied by brown and black people (non-white people), story of cricket is difficult to understand. India is one such country (Other countries are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies). Hence it is worth examining the dynamics of decolonization with respect to cricket in this part of the world. This is exactly what is attempted in this lesson.



1.2 Overview

Cricket is rule-governed sport and it has lot of puritan (a member of English origin) values like discipline, strict adherence to the rules, internal moral development, team spirit etc. And these values are followed in the modern era as well. Indians not only derived Cricket from their colonial past but also indigenized it over a period of time and decolonized it. Indians are still under the cricket fever and it has been more than 50 years since they are free nation. This can be answered as follows – the game has become indigenized through a set of complex processes that were running parallel to the emergence of Indian nation from British Empire. The indigenization of Cricket has many dimensions

1. The way, in which this sport is managed, supported and advertised.
2. Background of Indian players and their capability to imitate Victorian values
3. Team spirit and national sentiments inherent to Cricket (This actually helped in loosening British bonds)
4. The way in which the cricketing talent was identified and nurtured outside urban areas. (This made this cricket fever self-sustaining)
5. The media & language that helped Indian cricket to come out of Englishness.
These processes interacted with one another to indigenize cricket in India.

1.3 History of Cricket in England and its start in India

The Cricket is English in origin. It acquired the modern structure only in the second half of 19th Century. This game has Victorian Elite values filled in it. These values are
1. A masculine activity (male dominated game)
2. Sportsmanship
3. Sense of fair play
4. Control over expressions of strong emotions on the filed.
5. Play for the interest of the team
6. Be loyal to the team
Cricket requires a talent and not the class in the society. Hence it was always open to the talented amongst middle & lower class people. This openness for talent is the key to the early rise of cricket in India. In most part of 19th Century cricket was segregated sport as Indians & Englishman played in opposite teams. Cricket was associated with clubs that were dominated by Englishmen. Indian clubs came to existence only in last quarter of 19th Century. As a matter of fact, there were Parsi (a community in India with mixture of Indian & Western cultures) clubs in Bombay in 1840. Parsi teams toured England in 1880. This community acted as a bridge between English and Indian culture. Bombay (Mumbai) was a birthplace of Cricket and has a place in the cricket history in India. Even today, Bombay has produced world-class players who are integral part of national cricket team. In colonial regime, there was no policy in support of Cricket. However members of Victorian elite who occupied key positions in administration, education, journalism thought that Cricket could be used as a medium to transmit Victorian values (like character, fitness, strict adherence to rules, manliness, stamina etc..) to Indian community which is considered as a group of lazy, enervated (lacking energy), effete (exhausted) people. The governor of Bombay, Lord Harris, saw cricket as a medium to solidify the hold of Empire and a medium to reduce friction amongst Indian communities (To reduce communal riots between Hindu - Muslim). This started the development of Cricket in India.

1.4 Early Development of Cricket in India

In the period 1870 – 1930, there was lot of involvement (British army officers stationed in India, businessmen from England, senior government officials) to implant idea of Cricket in various parts of India. During the same period, Indian princes brought English & Australian coaches to India to train their own teams. These princes offered a lot of support for growth of cricket in India. In the process, they organized tournaments, put prizes, developed grounds and pitches, imported equipments and hosted English teams.
These princes also offered direct or indirect support to the cricketers and their families which enable talented cricketers to make their way into big cities, big teams and later in national team. The professional coaches hired by princes provided technical skills to the budding cricketers & it was crucial from the overall development of the cricketer. The tournaments made the group of Indian cricketers competitive which is very essential while playing at higher levels. Thus following events created a batch of non-elite Indians who were genuine cricketers and genuinely Indians.
1) support of British officers in India, who supported cricket,
2) Indian princes
3) Indian cricketer making their way in national teams
4) Cricket professional brought in from England & Australia
5) Cricket competitions
This made the groundwork for the Indianization of cricket. Vijay Hajare, Lala Amarnath, Mushtaq Ali are the few of the world-class Indian cricketers of that era. The noticeable exception is the great batsman Ranjitsinhaji. He played for institutions, clubs in England and was loyal to the Empire & is also referred as brown Englishman.

1.5 Growth of Cricket in India

1.5.1 Freedom movement

The popularity of cricket in India is tied up with the national sentiment. Though out the journey of development of cricket, there were two kinds of loyalties – Communal (religious) loyalty and National loyalty. In early days of cricket, there were not many Indian clubs. But by the end of 19th century there was existence of Indian clubs but on the basis of religions. The clubs so formed were Parsi clubs, Hindu clubs, and Muslim clubs and so on. Thus community groups gathered to form clubs and their respective teams. Thus first time there came a feeling that they are Hindu, Muslims, Parsi but not Europeans or Englishmen. Bombay is the birthplace of cricket in India and even in Bombay; cricket was organized along communal lines. Thus the English cricket was organized around counties or territories whereas in India it was around communities. When English teams began to tour India, there was a question as to how to construct an Indian team. However as the cricket started to grow and more & more people started involving in cricket, there were a good number of cricketers. The lot of credit goes to the princes in India. One more thing the princes did was that they did not pay attention to these communal principles when it came to selecting a cricketer. The tournaments organized by these princes, increased the team spirit and no wonder that in quick time there was enough talent created to represent a first Indian team. During the same time, in India, the mass movement started to make India a free nation, free from the rules & regime of British Empire. Surprising enough, there was little or no communication between these two movements – one to build Indian cricket team and the other to build a free nation. In the first three decades of 20th century, cricket became very popular sport and in the same time nationalist movement lead by Mahatma Gandhi picked up momentum. During this time, these two forces happen to meet. Mr. N. K. P. Salve, a major Indian politician and cricket entrepreneur narrates an incident as to how he and his friends were prevented from playing on a ground in Nagpur by Anglo-Indian (person of English and Indian descent) sergeant. Mr. Salve, his friends and his father, followers of Gandhi, had a discussion with British official and that won them the right to use the pitch. Thus there is an outrage about the Indian being kept out of public space and nationalist flavor of the resentment showing the union of cricket nationalism and political nationalism. However there are very rare incidents where the union between the two happened.

1.5.2  Language & Media

The growth of cricket is highly influenced by the language and the media. The media started to promote growth of cricket first by broadcasting the cricket commentary in English language on “All India Radio” in 1933. This continued till 50s after which there was broadcast in national as well as regional languages like Tamil and Bengali along with English language. The test match commentary was confined to English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali but first class matches were accompanied by commentary in all major regional languages. The commentary in vernacular medium made the cricket to reach each corner of the village. Through radio commentary in vernacular medium, people all over India absorbed the English terminology of cricket. This immensely helped in indigenizing this sport.
The author provides a piece of narration between cricket expert Lala Amarnath and Hindi commentator that took place in 1972-73 when Indian batsman Ajit Wadekar hits a boundary off English bowler Pockock. Hindi commentator asks Lala about the shot and Lala replies that the shot was very good and it was “wristy” (played with the use of wrists). The commentator interprets it as a “risky” and comments in Hindi that Wadekar played a risky shot which he should not have played. Thus vernacularization of cricket has linguistic pitfalls but overall has been beneficial to the growth and spread of cricket in India.

1.6 Conclusion

Cricket is the sport that originated in England. Englishmen ruled India for over 150 years. Because of British influence on India, cricket was played in India too. The princes in colonial regime supported it and this sport reached or at least became accessible to all classes of people in India. Cricket is a team effort and that helped Indians a lot that gave rise to the feeling of unity and could potentially have helped in their fight to get freedom. The cricket was further spread in all corners of the country by media and the language. Running commentary of cricket in local languages help it spread like fire. Today, cricket is in the blood of every Indian and it won’t be exaggeration to say that they eat cricket, drink cricket and live cricket. So much is the passion for this game in India that it does not look a sport of English origin in any angle [total decolonization] and this wave for cricket looks ever sustaining in India.




1.7 Questions
1 Author is trying to relate growth of cricket in India with freedom movement. There are not any sufficient evidences to support this opinion.
2 Cricket is the game where team spirit is important and that could have helped them in their freedom fight. Is this correct interpretation? This is not stated explicitly anywhere in the lesson.
3 The author also expressed his opinion that governor of Bombay, Lord Harris promoted cricket in India to reduce communal riots (especially amongst Hindu – Muslim). This is hard to digest because the principle of Englishmen was “Divide & conquer”. The first thing they did when they came to India was to divide the Indian people based on religion and the only major religions existent in India were Hindu & Muslim.
4 Why does author say that Cricket is difficult to understand in the colonies occupied by black & brown people?

2006-06-16 10:37 : 『さまよえる近代』(06前期・院ゼミ) : コメント : 0 :
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