‘Cricket is an Indian game accidentally invented by the English’: one of India’s leading public intellectuals once proclaimed. Ashis Nandy’s provocative claim might well be extended to the rest of the subcontinent now. Cricket was brought to the Indian sub-continent by British colonial officers who chose to not teach it to the natives. However, the game was learned through watching and soon gained popularity resulting in a tour of England by an Indian team in the early part of the twentieth century.
This panel explores how the story of cricket between England and South Asia has been nothing short of revolutionary, upsetting colonial power balances and creating unexpected alliances. Divided in all manner of ways, South Asia countries seem to have found in this colonial game an unlikely force for national unity. From Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, the game is now pursued in the subcontinent with a passion that defies easy explanations and which calls into question many of the prevailing assumptions about empire, colonialism and culture. This panel will draw on the perspectives of history to explore the dynamics of cricket in contemporary South Asia. Why has the game acquired such enduring roots in South Asia? Are there any common features in the way cricket is played, patronised and followed in the different countries of the region? Why is the game so intensely politicised in these countries? In what ways has the rise of India as a major cricketing powerhouse had an impact on cricketing relations with its neighbours? Is the IPL here to stay and if so, is it a force for good or does it threaten to irrevocably transform cricket as a sport?
Prashant Kidambi is Associate Professor in Colonial Urban History at the University of Leicester. Dr Kidambi’s research explores the social history of Indian cricket. He is currently completing a book on the history of the first ‘Indian’ cricket tour of Great Britain in 1911, an intriguing story peopled by an improbable cast of princes, Parsis and plebieans that casts interesting light on the interplay between sport, nation and empire.
Peter Oborne (@OborneTweets) is a regular commentator on politics for television, Associate Editor of The Spectator and former chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph. He is author of Wounded Tiger: The History of Cricket in Pakistan and White on Green: Celebrating the Drama of Pakistan Cricket.
Mukulika Banerjee (@MukulikaB) is Director of the South Asia Centre at LSE.
The South Asia Centre (@SAsiaLSE) leads the school's long-term engagement in the region by facilitating multi-disciplinary approaches and comparative research by LSE academics
Suggested Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSELitFest
This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2017, taking place from Monday 20 - Saturday 25 February 2017, with the theme "Revolutions".
A podcast of this event is available to download from Cricket as Revolution
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