'The theoretical possibility of equality on the cricket field was a radical idea in a colonised, hierarchical and deeply divided society'

Posted by es328 at Feb 28, 2017 11:54 AM |
Dr Prashant Kidambi discusses the first Indian cricket team to tour England and how the sport became a revolutionary power in South Asia

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In an interview with The London School of Economics and Political Science's South Asia Centre,Dr Prashant Kidambi discussed his research into the first Indian cricket team to tour England in 1911.

Dr Kidambi, from the University's School of History, Politics and International Relations, was speaking on a panel discussing the revolutionary power of cricket in South Asia as part of the LSE Literature Festival.

In the interview with Sonali Campion, Dr Kidambi said: "As often happens with research, it is like you are peeling away the layers and dusting off all the accumulated weight of history and I started finding all this fascinating material around the tour. It wasn’t a project that developed in the spur of the moment. This was the first team to call itself an Indian team, but there had been teams from India that travelled to Britain. The first attempt was by the Parsis in 1878. Unfortunately that venture fell through at the last minute and it ended up in a very acrimonious court case.

"If they had come they would have come the same year as the Australian cricket team. The 1878 series was when the Australians defeated the MCC and the Ashes was born, so the Parsis would have been part of that historic summer. That didn’t happen but they were eventually successful – they sent out a team in 1886, and another two years later. Then I realised that some of the people who had been involved in these tours then played an important role in the 1911 tour.

"There is often great emphasis on the link between Indian national identity and cricket, it naturalises the idea that cricket is now an Indian game. What the book shows is this was actually a very historically contingent thing. The 1911 tour happened only after at least 3 failed attempts throughout the early 1900s to send a team. Finally they manage to do it in 1911, but there no Indian nationalism arising spontaneously out of cricket."

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