Cricket is an enduring paradox. On the one hand, it symbolises much that is outmoded: imperialism; a leisured elite; a rural, aristocratic Englishness. On the other, it endures as a global game and does so by skilful adaptation, trading partly on its mythic past and partly on its capacity to repackage itself. This ambitious new history recounts the politics of cricket around the world since the Second World War, examining key cultural and political themes, including decolonisation, racism, gender, globalisation, corruption and commercialisation.
Part One looks at the transformation of cricket cultures in the ten territories of the former British Empire in the years immediately after 1945, a time when decolonisation and the search for national identity touched every cricket playing region in the world. Part Two focuses on globalisation and the game’s evolution as an international sport, analysing: social change and the Ashes; the campaigns for new cricket formats; the development of the women’s game; the new breed of coach; the limits to the game’s global expansion; and the rise of India as the world’s leading cricket power.
Cricket: A Political History of the Global Game, 1945-2017 is fascinating reading for anybody interested in the contemporary history of sport.
Shortlisted for The Cricket Writers’ Club book award 2018
"An astonishing piece of deep scholarship and stylish concision. The book possesses a richness and an intellectual grasp far greater than a short review can properly reflect." - Paul Edwards, The Cricketer
"The injunction to keep politics out of sport is age-old. Muddle-headed too, as Stephen Wagg's comprehensive comparative history of the politics in cricket demonstrates. This thorough and necessary book should become a standard reference." - Gideon Haigh, Australia's leading cricket writer
"Building thoughtfully on the work of the late Mike Marqusee, this is an insightful and richly rewarding labour of love. Astutely structured and deftly researched, the book draws on the author’s deep knowledge of geopolitical reality and how it manifests itself in post-Imperial cricket, enabling an ambitious brief to be admirably met. At times, indeed, you wonder how the game has survived the context in which it is played. If you want to know why cricket is the world’s most racialized, politicised and fascinating ballgame, look no further." - Rob Steen, Senior Lecturer and award-winning sports journalist, University of Brighton, UK
"Cricket is one of a few sports where nation vs nation remained a primary contest well into the new millennium. Inexorably tied to a colonial past, cricket also reflected the aspiration of its new nations and nationhoods over the last five decades. In a masterful work of scholarship, Wagg gives us an engaging, comprehensive new history of modern cricket. From the relentless churn of events, achievements and controversies around the cricketing globe, he teases out the sport’s engagements with the zeitgeist: the tussle between the old world and the new, the tumult of race and gender, the advent of "professionalism", globalisation and the corporatisation of cricket. As much as the book is about modern cricket around the world, Wagg has also skilfully identified the world's footprints on modern cricket." - Sharda Ugra, Senior Editor, ESPNcricinfo and ESPN India
"Now seems the ideal time for the publication of a book pertaining to the history of how cricket has developed in and out of step with the political and social sphere … Among others, the book is dedicated to the late American writer and political activist Mike Marqusee, and leans heavily on his totemic treatise Anyone but England. Though this book is less polemic than that work, it slots in comfortably next to it on a cricket love’s bookshelf, and loses little in comparison to its relative. There can be little higher praise than that." - Wisden
Part 1: Cricket and the End of Empire
1. Fossilised Reactionaries? English Cricket Since 1945
2. A Nation of Blow-Ins? Cricket in Australia Since 1945
3. ‘The Partnership of the Horse and its Rider’: Cricket in Southern Africa Since 1945
4. A Relative Lack of Interest: Cricket in New Zealand Since 1945
5. Father, King, Statesman, General, Prince, Don: West Indian Cricket Culture Since 1945
6. The Soul of a Nation, Long Suppressed? Cricket in India Since 1945
7. Cricket in a Hard Country: Pakistani Cricket Since 1947
8. ‘We Rule Here, You Rule There’: Cricket in East Pakistan and Bangladesh Since 1947
9. After Brewing Tea for the Empire: Cricket in Sri Lanka Since 1945
10. Straight Shooting Blokes: Social Distinction, Masculinity and Myth in The Ashes
1945 to 2015
Part 2: Cricket in the Age of Globalisation
11. ‘Everyone Seemed to Be ‘With It’: Cricket Politics and the Coming of the One Day Game, 1940-1970
12. ‘Paint a Picture, and Keep it the Right Way Up’: Cricket and the Mass Media 1945-2015
13. Women’s Cricket: The Feminism That Dared Not Speak Its Name
14. Remove the Gunk in the Middle: The Coming of Twenty20 and the Indian Premier League
15. Have You Made This Team Great, or Have They Made You? Cricket, Coaching, and Globalisation
16. Beyond the Boundaries: The Drive to Globalise Cricket, and its Limits
The Routledge Research in Sports History series presents leading research in the development and historical significance of modern sport through a collection of historiographical, regional and thematic studies which span a variety of periods, sports and geographical areas. Showcasing ground-breaking, cross-disciplinary work from established and emerging sport historians, the series provides a crucial contribution to the wider study of sport and society.