Monday, August 05, 2013

Cricket once provided an escape from Indian reality. How times change

While CRICKET plays on the radio, I'm reading RAMACHANDRA GUHA'S fascinating "A CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD," a history of the sport in INDIA.
The book reviews the transformation of an imported pastime.
In the earlier colonial period, the Indians thought the British were lunatics for chasing a leather ball around a field under the burning sun.
By the early 2000s, when the top Indian batsman faced the top Pakistani bowler, the television audience exceeded the entire population of Europe.
Guha explains why the sport was so popular among the early colonials:
"The slow stateliness of the walk to the wicket, the interruptions between balls and overs, the graceful clothes that the players wore, the greenness of the grass, the understated gaiety of the lunch and tea intervals -- all these made cricket an extended escape from India, from its chatter, its dirt, its smells and its peoples."
From serving as a virtual "escape" from the subcontinent, cricket became part of the region's soul.
Eventually, the British were joined by the PARSIS and then the HINDUS in playing the game of bat and ball.
I'm looking forward to learning the remainder of the great history.


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