HomeCricketBatting for the British Empire: The Role Cricket Played In Colonialism

Batting for the British Empire: The Role Cricket Played In Colonialism

The letter summed up the growing anxiety about a rapidly changing world in which the British empire had lost its prestige, and people with little interest in cricket drove cabs in the capital city. If cricket was no longer central to British identity, Brittain reasoned, what hope was there for the future of the nation?

Cricket has been a marker of English identity for two centuries. It is the “most exalted icon”, as one scholar has written, of “theme park heritage Englishness”. In order to be England’s national game, cricket had to be English in origin and character (though it may have evolved from games in France and the Netherlands). And when Englishmen travelled the world to forge an empire, they took their “national” game with them.

It was the Victorians who wove a distinctive English imprint into cricket by trumpeting the virtues of fair play, equanimity and…

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