Author: Ashis Nandy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 978-0-19-565321-2
This is a book on cricket that ceases to be so after a point and becomes an informal but systematic analysis of worldviews, ideologies, cultural exchanges and political choices. It is also arguably Nandy's most ambitious book and the one that comes closest to being a statement of his personal philosophy and political credo.
Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the English, says Ashis Nandy, defying history, in this delightful, original book. He shows how a game that was once identified with the British Empire, and was the exclusive preserve of the Victorian gentry, is now more South Asian than English. Aside from a brilliant analysis of the philosophy and rituals of the game, he treats the reader to intriguing psychological profiles of legendary figures of the world cricket. As a bonus, there are masterly analyses of detective fiction and popular film and their parallels to cricket.
The author also examines the increasing gamesmanship in cricket and the sneaking entry of the modern urban-industrial ethic and mass culture into a game that thrived on its ability to be a living critique of modern life. He argues that the demise of traditional cricket, a game which is more than just a game, may mean the defeat of the idea of the plurality of cultures and the final victory of the modern ideas of nation-state and market.
The Tao of Cricket is a statement on the politics of cultural choices and the politics of visions in South Asia, using the metaphor of cricket. In his preface to this edition, Nandy says:
Untrained in political theory and unversed in the discipline of cultural studies, I had thought that the story of cricket in India could be a handy trope for having my say on the tragicomic spectacle of an ancient society running breathlessly to become a developed, modern nation-state. I felt the story worth telling since India's intellectual and media elite seemed to love that panting, perspiring race and eager to pay the price of the deculturation and homelessness that often went with it. The diseases of the rich and the powerful can have a charm of their own. Precisely because its political analysis is unacceptable and painful The Tao of Cricket over the years has been read more as a cultural history of cricket than as a deviant political psychology of popular culture.