Marxist commentaries on cricketSome observations about contemporary cricket::
1. The game of cricket has undergone massive transformation in the last 25 years. While I have not read CLR James' work, my objective is to describe some broad features of contemporary cricket.
2. Cricket is the most popular sport in South Asia [pop. 1.25 billion]. Tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people follow this sport via TV, Radio and print media.
3. Rapid spread of TV, satellite technology led to creation of a vast market for cricket in South Asia. One important innovation in global cricket was 'limited overs' one day game, against the traditional 5 day format. This has made cricket result oriented, and thus very exciting. This has naturally led to huge increase in the number of viewers. None of this existed, when James' book was published [1963?]. World championships [which did not exist 20 years ago] have added to the excitement.
4. All these factors have contributed to massive entry of corporates for advertising their products. This means that there is enormous amount of money in cricket today. Cricketers playing test match level cricket in South Asia earn considerable sums of money. Widespread betting, match fixing allegations have become a regular feature of the game.
5. While patriotic sentiments dominate the crowd, there is hardly any anti-colonialism involved here. For Indians, English cricket team is like any other team [Pakistan excepted]. English cricket team is no different than, say, Sri Lankan team for Indian supporters. India-Pakistan cricket generates maximum patriotic fervour on both sides of the boundary.
6. While overall standard of the game have improved, the gap between different teams globally has narrowed considerably. No team can take its victory for granted. Entry of Bangladesh, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the world cricket and spread to Persian Gulf region [ Sharjah being the centre] are new features in the world of cricket.
Thus, cricket today is vastly different from what would appear to be the case from the posting based on James' book Beyond a Boundary. And if there is any class struggle in cricket, then I have not noticed it.
I just want to make a point about class in cricket. While Ulhas may not have noticed any element of class conflict in Indian cricket, he is perhaps not so familiar with the game, or too close to it to notice. The Indian and Pakistani sides have for a very long time been dominated by the sons of mercantiles and military gents, many of whom have had private schooling similar in manmy ways to the British public school system whose alumni dominate the Long Room at Lords - the HQ of the MCC.
English cricket is highly polarized between the County and Test game, the domain of the ruling class and its middle class hangers on, and League cricket, particularly in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The last is rarely noticed, but has a huge number of teams,