1st Edition

Cricket, Capitalism and Class From the Village Green to the Cricket Industry

By Chris McMillan Copyright 2024

    This ambitious new study argues that not only is the story of cricket inescapably entwined with that of capitalism, but that the game provides a unique lens with which to understand the history, development, exigencies and contradictions of capitalist political economy.

    From the aristocratic capture of the artisan’s game to the commodified entertainment of private T20 leagues, the story of cricket has been told against the background of capitalism. Cricket was the gentlemanly vanguard of the English-led British empire which forged the first iteration of international capitalism that was reliant upon a political and commercial partnership between rulers and the ruled, and today it speaks to the productive tension between the emergence of the Asian century and the power of American cultural imperialism. Reading capitalism as a cultural, economic and political system, this book explores the relationship between cricket and capitalism and illuminates many of the most important themes in contemporary sport studies, such as class, race, gender, globalisation, nationalism, neoliberalism, commodification and migration.

    This is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in sport history, the sociology of sport, global political economy, political theory or cultural studies.


    Part I: Origins 

    1          Class: Cricket’s Original Sin

    2          Cricket and Ideology: The Fantasmatic Logic of the Village Green

    3          Cricket and the Modern Gentleman: Class in Twenty-First Century English Cricket 

    Part II: Empire           

    4          Cricket and the Making of Global Capitalism: Aotearoa, Exploitation and Expropriation

    5          Cricket, Capitalism and Colonial Rule: The Case of India

    6          Cricket, Power and Post-Colonial Resistance: The Case of the West Indies 

    Part III: Geopolitics 

    7          Cricket’s Asian Century: The Rise of the IPL

    8          Franchises, Freelancers and Representation: Cricket, Neoliberalism and Nationalism

    9          Cricket and Racial Capitalism: The South African Case 

    Part IV: Late Capitalism 

    10        Consuming Cricket: Cricket and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

    11        Producing Cricket: The Cricket-Media Complex

    12        Cricket and Patriarchal Capitalism: Recognising Batters

    13        Liberation/Alienation/Exploitation: Global Capitalism and the Women’s Premier League 

    Conclusion: Cricket in the Wreckage of Capitalism


    Chris McMillan is a Professional Teaching Fellow in the School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is a sociologist with a particular interest in the intersections of cultures of capitalism, sport, cities and public policy. Chris is an active, if ineffective, cricketer and has played recreationally for East Coast Bays Cricket Club in New Zealand as well as Kew Cricket Club in London.

    'If the cricket ‘Establishment’ co-opted C.L.R. James, and denigrated Mike Marqusee, it will be interesting to see how they react to Chris McMillan, a third Marxist, who has exposed how class and capitalism shapes the global game – for better or worse – like never before. 

    While no book is ever definitive, you’d be hard pushed to think of, or produce, a more comprehensive examination of cricket, past and present, in a global context and the role that capitalism and class plays, all too often, in hindering it ever becoming a ‘people’s game’. 

    A book that highlights the significance of sport – in this case cricket – in understanding the central role class plays in capitalist, and increasingly globalised, society. Whether you follow the game or not, this is essential reading for not only academics, but those running, broadcasting, and writing about the game also.' 

    Duncan Stone, Author of ‘Different Class: The Untold Story of English Cricket’, The University of Huddersfield, UK