Cricket in Colonial India 1780 – 1947  book cover
1st Edition

Cricket in Colonial India 1780 – 1947

ISBN 9781138883512
Published June 12, 2015 by Routledge
220 Pages

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Book Description

This is an exacting social history of Indian cricket between 1780 and 1947. It considers cricket as a derivative sport, creatively adapted to suit modern Indian socio-cultural needs, fulfil political imperatives and satisfy economic aspirations.  Majumdar argues that cricket was a means to cross class barriers and had a healthy following even outside the aristocracy and upper middle classes well over a century ago. Indeed, in some ways, the democratization of the sport anticipated the democratization of the Indian polity itself.

Boria Majumdar reveals the appropriation, assimilation and subversion of cricketing ideals in colonial and post-colonial India for nationalist ends. He exposes a sport rooted in the contingencies of the colonial and post-colonial context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century India. Cricket, to put it simply, is much more than a ‘game’ for Indians.

This study describes how the genealogy of their intense engagement with cricket stretches back over a century. It is concerned not only with the game but also with the end of cricket as a mere sport, with Indian cricket’s commercial revolution in the 1930s, with ideals and idealism and their relative unimportance, with the decline of morality for reasons of realpolitik, and with the denunciation, once and for all, of the view that sport and politics do not mix.   

This book was previously published as a special issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport 

Table of Contents

1. Maharajas and Cricket: Self, State, Province and Nation 2. Cricket in India: Representative playing fields to a restrictive preserve 3. On the road to meritocracy 3. National, Communal and the Commercial 4. Cricket in Colonial Bengal: 1880-1947- A lost history of nationalism 5. Cricket in late colonial Bengal: 1930-47- A story of decline 6. Cricket in colonial Bombay: 1850-1930 7. Communalism to Commercialism: The Bombay Pentangular (1892-1946) 8. Looking back 9.Selected Memories 10. Battles off the Pitch 11. Deified Citizens: Torchbearers of a billion 12.Power 13. Towards a middle class dream: The commercial revolution 14. Leading the world

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Boria Majumdar, a Rhodes scholar, is research fellow at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He is Executive Editor of the Routledge journals Sport in Society and Soccer and Society and Joint General Editor of the Routledge Series, Sport in the Global Society. He is also visiting lecturer at the University of Chicago and a fellow of the International Olympic Museum at Lausanne, Switzerland. A well-known media figure on television, he has also written extensively for the Times of India, Outlook, Wisden and Anandabazar Patrika.


‘…a very good book…’ Outlook


‘… Boria Majumdar integrates the unfolding cricket story inextricably with that of the cultural/ political story within which the Indian game was and remains embedded. The empirical work is exhaustive, the interpretation well grounded…’ Biblio