Author: Boria Majumdar
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670057940
Few sports obsess and engross societies as much as cricket does in India. From its introduction to the country in the late nineteenth century, cricket has been at once a barometer of and a trigger for social change in India. The British Raj saw it as part of a civilizing mission; Indians saw it as a tool of social acceptability, a nationalist statement-even a gentle form of subversion. With the beginning of Indian cricket’s commercial revolution in the 1930s, the interplay between business and sport and, almost logically, politics and sport, only intensified. In the aftermath of the 1983 Prudential Cup victory, the marriage of cricket with its larger society was complete. Today, one can scarcely be distinguished from the other.
Over three centuries (1780-2003), India’s engagement with cricket has made for a riveting drama. Paradoxical as it may seem, idealism and intrigue, social mobility and strict stratification are all part of India’s cricket story. It is this story that Boria Majumdar recounts in his lucid yet rigorous study of the country’s perennial cricket mania.
Twenty-Two Yards to Freedom assesses the role of cricket in Indian national life. 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. It also examines the interrelationship between those who patronized and promoted the game and those who played and watched it. The book highlights indigenous cricket traditions in Bengal and the South in addition to those of Mumbai, usually considered the game’s home in India, and comments on the early commercialization of the sport in the decades before Independence.
From the Parsi capitalists to the BCCI, cricket under the Raj to cricket under Swaraj, from the Maharaja of Natore to Saurav Ganguly, ‘Maharaj’ of Kolkata, Twenty-Two Yards to Freedom covers the entire gamut.
A must-read for cricket aficionados and for all who are interested in the history of contemporary India.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
PART ONE: PATRONAGE
Cricket and The Crown: Native Princes and an English Game
Representative Playing Field to Restrictive Preserve
On the Road To Meritocracy
PART TWO: NATINALISM, COMMUNALISM, COMMERCIALISM
Cricket in Colonial Bengal: A Lost History of Nationalism, 1880-1947
Bengal’s Decline, 1930-47
The Bombay School, 1850-1930
Opiate of the Masses: The Bombay Pentangular, 1892-1946
PART THREE: BACKWARD GLANCE
Settles Off The Pitch
Eleven Gods, A Billion Indians
PART FOUR: POWER PLAY
Cricket INC: The TV Rights War
Leading The World