Cricket and Politics
Cricket and Politics
In South Asia during 1880-2005 politics gained an unusual bedfellow. Cricket was introduced to India by Great Britain for a purpose that was widely discussed. Some believed cricket brought their people together and unified different castes and cultures within India and Britain, some believed the sport was just another way for the British to rule over India and appear superior, and others criticized the religious nature present in many of the tournaments.
This issue could be better understood by including an article by a British commoner who participated in the Quadrangular Tournament to make it evident that they really did want to spread religion and it wasn’t an overreaction by the Hindus or Muslims. It would also be conducive to include an article written by an Indian ruling elite who was the main source of any sort of political power or political relations with British elites so the reader can get a greater understanding of the actual role of cricket in politics and to experience if there were any conflicts over the solve issue of cricket during political debates.
To begin with, there were those individuals that believed cricket was a unifying force and was purposeful in bringing everyone together to just play a sport. These people had little commentary on any relation cricket could have had to politics whether there was a huge relation or not. In document 3, an English cricketer tells how he believes cricket has a huge effect on the colonization of Britain. He says how cricket has the power to unite “the rulers and the ruled” and that it provides many different values to its players.
In document 4, an Indian social reformer tells of a situation where a group of upper-caste cricket players allowed a low-caste player onto their Hindu team and how the sport of cricket has really played a huge role in the unification of the Indian people. Since the author of this document is a social reformer for the Indian newspaper they would want to show that they are of course doing their job as a reformer and putting out effective reforms. This could have been a type of reform that was forced on the upper-caste members to allow new members of different castes into their teams.
They also wanted to show Indians that their country looked good and was respected in that they said, “let India cease to be the laughing stock of the whole world. ” In document 5, another point of view is shown that clearly demonstrates how cricket gives a brotherly feel to those who participate even if they are of different religions. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the first leader of Pakistan and writes how Muslims should be rejoiced when winning championships of cricket.
He uses absolute speech here showing he clearly has a side as to which team needs to be brotherly toward the other. Saying the Muslims will definitely win the tournament makes it evident that they are not brotherly at all and that in fact one is clearly trying to rise above the other. In document 10, a very indecisive chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board leaps back and forth between whether the cricket games should lead to war or whether it brings people together. He clearly talks of India and Pakistan as two different people and places.
He also probably had to be extremely careful with his words due to the fact that this was an interview and words could be twisted. This could have been why he was jumping back and for with his opinions and had a very scattered and unclear opinion. In addition, there were those who looked at cricket as a way for British to rule over India even more and expand the cloud of influence they had over Indian affairs. In document 2, a picture and caption is shown of the Prince of India that was shown in the London newspaper.
This picture depicts the Prince having a relaxing time playing cricket in a proposed visit to England, it should be taken into account that the trip has not been taken yet. The paper speaks on his behalf saying he is thrilled to be joining the English players and that the team, in turn was excited to receive him. In document 1, the Indian cricket players signed a petition and sent it to the governor of Bombay, India. The petition was asking for the Indian cricket team’s fields back that were using it for polo.
This was tearing up the fields and destroying them for the cricket team. Since the team contacted the governor it shows that this was a political issue and that the sport was becoming a matter of the government. It also shows that the British had dominant control on what happened on the field and that they had first pick. Since British ruled India, this was just another advantage they had over India. The author could have also been trying to make cricket look like a more important sport than polo so that they could get their field back.
In document 6, an Indian Natore XI cricket club supporter writes an article for their monthly magazine. Of course, since he is writing the article for the Natore XI he is bound to speak very highly of the club and emphasize his want for them to have their equality against the English cricket teams especially during the years of 1925-1926 when tensions could have been assumed to be high in India and Britain as India was pushing for independence.
Finally, Indians and Pakistanis were angered by the continued involvement of religion in the cricket games during post-independence times. In document 7, the Indian sports journal, complains about increased involvement of religion in the Quadrangular cricket tournaments. The editorial complains that religious fanaticism is resent at games and that this has disturbed the peace but at the same time, the author refers to the field as sacred bringing a religious vibe into their own writing.
British and Indian religions were very different and the author could have been supporting Indian religion because their audience was mainly Hindu or Muslim and not the British religion of either Christian or Catholic. In document 8, Gandhi, an independence leader, speaks strongly of the Quadrangular tournaments and how he agrees that they should be stopped due to the religious issues. Gandhi supported peace and wanted independence for India but most likely did not want to see it be done this way. He supported the Hindu’s and spoke of how Colleges and Institutions should be playing against each other and not religions.
Gandhi does not address the political nature of cricket and tells of sportsmanship which was never really present in cricket. In document 9, a Hindu nationalist is quoted in the newspaper Muslim India and speaks of how it is not right that the Muslim Indians are not cheering for their own country but instead for Pakistanis because they are Muslim. This shows more religious involvement in the games making it evident that it’s not about the game of cricket but more about who it is getting ahead and what religion wins.
The nationalist could be trying to encourage the Indian Muslims to have more pride for their country and be shaming them into supporting the Indians instead of the Pakistanis. In conclusion, cricket was a huge factor in politics and had many different point of views on how it impacted life in India and Britain. Some were shaken by the political and religious nature and others felt it was a great way to bring people together whether rich or poor. In all, cricket was more than just a game and greatly impacted British and Indian/Pakistani relationships.