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2022.07.25 板球如何征服世界

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The Economist reads | How cricket conquered the world
What to read to understand cricket
Our Washington bureau chief recommends five books on the game
DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 26: A boy is seen playing cricket against a setting sun at India Gate on October 26, 2011 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Jul 25th 2022

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This article is part of our Summer reads series. Visit our collection to discover “The Economist reads” guides, guest essays and more seasonal distractions.

FOR AT LEAST two centuries, America’s closest thing to a national pastime was cricket. The game was played up and down the east coast throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. George Washington played it at Valley Forge. The first international fixture in any sport was a cricket match between America and Canada, in Manhattan in 1844. On the first day an estimated 20,000 people watched it. Few Americans know this history. The late 19th century saw a deep-pocketed campaign to establish baseball—a simpler bat-and-ball game—as the country’s first professional sport. Baseball’s promoters raided cricket clubs for talent while traducing cricket as a foreign affectation. And because history is written by the victors, that calumny has stuck. “Cricket is basically baseball on valium,” Robin Williams quipped.


It is getting harder for Americans to maintain such nonsense. In July their improving national men’s cricket side, dominated by the sons of South Asian migrants, narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in T20 cricket—a three-hour format that is more action-packed than most baseball games. In 2024, America will co-host the biennial T20 tournament, for which its side is therefore guaranteed qualification. Cricketing developments in India, the game’s biggest market, have meanwhile captivated American business. Last month Disney had to bid $3bn to retain the tv rights to India’s domestic T20 tournament. As Americans re-engage with their country’s first sporting love, what should they read? Here is an introductory list.

Beyond a Boundary. By C.L.R. James. Duke University Press; 291 pages; $44.95. Vintage; £10.99

In 1963 the Trinidadian Marxist scholar C.L.R. James asked a question that has come to define sport’s place in social history: “What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?” Part autobiography, part social and political analysis of the late-colonial West Indies, “Beyond a Boundary” describes the contradictions of British colonial rule, as manifested in cricket. The game was infused with racial and class-based chauvinism; James, a good club cricketer, was barred from joining white teams. He in turn disdained teams of dark-skinned “plebeians” for one of his own “brown-skinned middle class”. Yet cricket was also a primary vehicle for oppressed colonials to shine—be they great players, such as the author’s friend Learie Constantine, or merely Matthew Bondman, a local ne’er do-well, much admired for his batting. Teasing out such paradoxes has become a mainstay of serious sports writing; James’s genius lies, beyond the power of his political analysis, in his ability to extend his themes into the smallest details of cricket’s rhythms and form.


A Social History of English Cricket. By Sir Derek Birley. Aurum Press; 400 pages; $17.99

Had the French aristocracy played cricket with their peasants, the British historian G.M. Trevelyan claimed, their chateaux would not have been burned. Few national mythologies are more entrenched than the notion of England’s class-riven society being bound by cricket love. It was a creation of the self-obsessed and sports-loving Victorians. To explain Britain’s global power, they identified a unique British genius, and claimed cricket encapsulated it. A highly romanticised strain of post-Victorian cricket writing, led by Neville Cardus, the son of a Manchester prostitute, cemented this idea of cricket as the nation’s soul. There is no better debunker of it than Derek Birley, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Ulster who wrote excellent cricket histories in his free time. His most comprehensive, “A Social History of English Cricket”, published in 1999, chronicles the game’s rustic origins, its promotion by well-heeled gamblers and emergence, by the late 18th century, as a preoccupation of polite society. He describes its use as a symbol and instrument of British imperialism—and the class tensions it revealed back home. It is true that, until 1963, in English first-class cricket gentlemen “amateurs” played alongside working-class “players”. But if that might gladden Trevelyan’s heart, it made cricket more a showcase of social divisions than a vehicle to overcome them.

Mystery Spinner: The Story of Jack Iverson. By Gideon Haigh. Text Publishing; 400 pages; $9.99. Aurum Press; £12

While mid-century English cricket writing was mired in romanticism, England’s great cricketing rival, Australia, launched a more hard-nosed, realistic literary tradition. It was led by Ray Robinson and Jack Fingleton, who played 18 Test matches for Australia, then turned out to be even better at writing than he was at cricket. Their literary inheritor is Gideon Haigh, the best living cricket writer. A 56-year-old Melburnian who supports England (the land of his birth), he has written over 40 books on cricket and business. It is hard to choose between the best of them; but none is more remarkable than “Mystery Spinner”, an exhaustively researched biography of one of elite sport’s strangest lives. Jack Iverson, a small-time estate agent, played his first competitive cricket match in Melbourne in 1946 at the age of 31. An almost unplayable bowler, he was within four years playing for Australia. The mystery of his bowling was a unique grip—he held the ball between his thumb and an exaggeratedly crooked middle finger—which allowed him to spin it three ways with no perceptible change in his action. He took 21 wickets in five Test matches. Then batsmen got used to his method, making him much less effective, and he left cricket almost as abruptly as he had entered it. He committed suicide aged 58.

More Summer reads
• How to watch the Tour de France from afar
• What if the Ottoman Empire had not collapsed?
• In praise of mass-market American tacos
• Our Bartleby columnist picks beach reads for business folk
• The long and tangled history of California’s eucalyptus trees

A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport. By Ramachandra Guha. Picador; 200 pages £8.99

The best first line of any cricket book appears in Ashis Nandy’s “The Tao of Cricket”: “Cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British.” Ramachandra Guha, one of India’s most eminent historians, has no truck with that. In the best of his several cricket books he describes how Indians were not drawn to cricket’s tantric rhythms but to the high status the British attached to the game. The first Indian cricketers, in mid-19th-century Bombay, were Parsis, members of a fire-worshipping business community who attached themselves to the British. But that in turn piqued the curiosity of the Parsis’ Hindu rivals, and their Muslim rivals—and so the politics of cricket and prestige was injected into Indian society. This gave rise, between 1912 and 1930, to one of the most viscerally followed sport tournaments ever held, the Bombay Quadrangular, which pitted teams of whites, Parsis, Hindus and Muslims against each other. It was cancelled amid the mass protests occasioned by Mohandas Gandhi’s Salt March, even as some nationalist leaders were attacking cricket as a foreign imposition. Gandhi, who had played the game as a boy, objected only to Bombay’s divisive caste-based tournament. But it was revived due to public demand—with soon an additional team of Buddhists, Indian Christians and Jews. Indians were already far too besotted with the British game to relinquish it.


Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer. By Sujit Mukerjee. Ravi Dayal Publishers; 178 pages; $14.95

A hundred ghosted autobiographies of the world’s best cricketers are not worth this slim volume by a far more modest player. Sujit Mukerjee was a literary critic and translator of Bengali into English who in the 1950s also played a handful of first-class games for the Indian state of Bihar, a cricketing backwater. He was at peace with his mediocrity. Attending state trials as a 21-year-old taught him, he wrote, “beyond doubt that this was about the most I was meant to achieve”. Yet the realisation did nothing to blunt his love of playing the game, and of memorialising the play. Cricket, he believed, elicited a “heady mix of memory and desire” and “no memory can be more vivid, no desire more enduring, than those embodying the cricket one has seen and known and played oneself.” The cricket details he mines are of their place and time. He writes of rattling long train journeys across India to lose cricket matches. He describes in awe Father Kevin Cleary, the cricket-mad priest who coached his school team and played, “if not as a man of God, certainly as a preceptor of the game.” But the extremity of his cricket obsessiveness is timeless and, across much of the world, general.

The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India. By James Astill. Bloomsbury; 304 pages; $27 and £18.99

Our Washington bureau chief wrote this award-winning social history of Indian cricket. It describes India’s corrupt cricket politics, the explosive growth of television ownership that nationalised the game, and the consolation that poor slum-dwellers and villagers find in it. He has previously argued in these pages that Americans would still be playing a lot of cricket if it weren’t for the civil war. ■




经济学人》读后感|板球如何征服世界
了解板球应该读什么书
我们的华盛顿分社社长推荐了五本关于板球运动的书籍
印度德里-10月26日:2011年10月26日,在印度德里,一个男孩在印度门迎着夕阳玩板球。(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
2022年7月25日


这篇文章是我们夏季读物系列的一部分。请访问我们的收藏,以发现 "经济学人读物 "指南、特邀文章和更多的季节性分心。

至少两个世纪以来,美国最接近国家消遣的东西是板球。在整个18和19世纪,这种游戏在东海岸上上下下都在进行。乔治-华盛顿在山谷堡垒玩过这个游戏。任何运动中的第一个国际比赛是1844年在曼哈顿举行的美国和加拿大的板球比赛。在第一天,估计有20,000人观看了比赛。很少有美国人知道这段历史。19世纪末,美国开展了一场财大气粗的运动,以建立棒球--一种更简单的球棒和球的游戏--作为该国的第一个职业运动。棒球的推广者们突击检查板球俱乐部的人才,同时把板球说成是一种外国的装饰品。由于历史是由胜利者书写的,这种诽谤一直存在。"板球基本上是服用安定剂的棒球,"罗宾-威廉姆斯打趣道。


美国人越来越难坚持这种无稽之谈了。7月,他们不断进步的国家男子板球队,由南亚移民的儿子主导,以微弱的优势错失了2022年世界杯T20板球赛的资格--一个比大多数棒球比赛更有动作的三小时赛制。2024年,美国将联合主办两年一度的T20锦标赛,因此其球队保证有资格参加。同时,板球运动在印度这个最大的市场的发展也吸引了美国商界。上个月,迪斯尼不得不出价30亿美元来保留印度国内T20锦标赛的电视转播权。当美国人重新接触他们国家的第一项体育爱好时,他们应该读些什么?这里有一个介绍性的清单。

超越边界。作者:C.L.R. James。杜克大学出版社;291页;44.95美元。Vintage;10.99英镑

1963年,特立尼达的马克思主义学者C.L.R.詹姆斯提出了一个问题,这个问题已经成为体育在社会历史中的地位的定义。"他们知道什么是板球,谁只知道板球?" 部分是自传,部分是对晚期殖民地西印度群岛的社会和政治分析,《超越边界》描述了英国殖民统治的矛盾,这些矛盾在板球中得到了体现。这场比赛充满了种族和阶级沙文主义;詹姆斯是一名优秀的俱乐部板球运动员,被禁止加入白人球队。反过来,他也不屑于参加由深色皮肤的 "平民 "组成的球队,而选择自己的 "棕色皮肤的中产阶级"。然而,板球也是受压迫的殖民地人闪亮登场的主要工具--无论是伟大的球员,如作者的朋友Learie Constantine,还是仅仅是Matthew Bondman,一个当地的新秀,因其击球而备受钦佩。揭示这种矛盾已经成为严肃的体育写作的主流;詹姆斯的天才在于,除了他的政治分析能力之外,他有能力将他的主题扩展到板球节奏和形式的最小细节中。


英国板球的社会历史。作者:德里克-伯利爵士。Aurum出版社;400页;17.99美元

英国历史学家G.M. Trevelyan称,如果法国贵族与他们的农民一起玩板球,他们的城堡就不会被烧毁。很少有国家神话比英国的阶级社会被板球之爱所束缚的概念更根深蒂固。这是自我迷恋和热爱体育的维多利亚人的创造。为了解释英国的全球实力,他们确定了一个独特的英国天才,并声称板球概括了这一点。由曼彻斯特一个妓女的儿子内维尔-卡杜斯(Neville Cardus)领导的维多利亚时代后的板球写作的高度浪漫化倾向,巩固了板球作为国家灵魂的想法。没有比德里克-伯利(Derek Birley)更好的驳斥者了,他是阿尔斯特大学的前副校长,在闲暇时写了很多优秀的板球历史。他最全面的作品《英国板球社会史》于1999年出版,记录了这项运动的质朴起源,它被富有的赌徒推广,并在18世纪末成为上流社会的焦点。他描述了它作为英国帝国主义的象征和工具的用途,以及它在国内所揭示的阶级紧张关系。的确,直到1963年,在英国一级板球比赛中,"业余 "绅士与工人阶级 "球员 "一起比赛。但如果这能让特里维利安感到欣慰的话,它使板球更多地成为社会分工的展示,而不是克服分工的工具。

神秘的旋转器。杰克-艾弗森的故事。作者:Gideon Haigh。文本出版社;400页;9.99美元。Aurum出版社;12英镑

当本世纪中叶英国的板球写作陷入浪漫主义的泥潭时,英格兰伟大的板球对手澳大利亚却推出了一个更加强硬、现实的文学传统。它由雷-罗宾逊和杰克-芬格尔顿领导,后者为澳大利亚打了18场测试赛,后来发现他的写作能力甚至比他的板球能力还强。他们的文学继承人是吉迪恩-海格,他是在世的最好的板球作家。他是一位56岁的梅尔伯尼人,支持英格兰(他的出生地),他写了40多本关于板球和商业的书。很难在这些书中选择最好的;但没有一本比《神秘的纺纱工》更出色,这是一本经过详尽研究的传记,讲述了精英运动中最奇怪的生活之一。杰克-艾弗森是一位小有名气的房地产经纪人,1946年在墨尔本参加了他的第一场板球比赛,当时他31岁。他是一个几乎无法比赛的保龄球手,四年内就为澳大利亚队效力。他保龄球的奥秘在于他独特的握球方式--他把球夹在拇指和夸张地弯曲的中指之间--这使他能够以三种方式旋转球,而他的动作没有明显的变化。他在五场测试赛中拿下了21个小门。后来,击球手们习惯了他的方法,使他的效果大打折扣,他几乎像进入板球一样突然离开板球。他在58岁时自杀了。

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外国领域的一角。一项英国运动的印度历史。作者:拉马钱德拉-古哈。Picador;200页 8.99英镑

所有板球书籍中最好的第一句话出现在阿希斯-南迪的《板球之道》中。"板球是英国人意外发现的一种印度游戏"。印度最杰出的历史学家之一拉马钱德拉-古哈(Ramachandra Guha)对这句话不以为然。在他最好的几本板球书中,他描述了印度人是如何被板球的密宗节奏所吸引,而是被英国人赋予的高地位所吸引。在19世纪中期的孟买,第一批印度板球运动员是帕西人,他们是崇拜火的商业团体的成员,他们隶属于英国人。但这反过来又激起了帕西人的印度教对手和穆斯林对手的好奇心,于是板球的政治和威望被注入了印度社会。这在1912年至1930年期间产生了有史以来最受关注的体育比赛之一,即孟买四人制比赛,该比赛由白人、帕西人、印度人和穆斯林组成的队伍相互对抗。在莫汉达斯-甘地的盐业游行引起的大规模抗议中,该比赛被取消了,甚至在一些民族主义领导人攻击板球为外国强加的时候。甘地在童年时曾玩过这种游戏,他只反对孟买的基于种姓的分裂性比赛。但由于公众的要求,它又被恢复了,很快又增加了佛教徒、印度基督教徒和犹太人的队伍。印度人已经非常迷恋英国的比赛,无法放弃它。


一个无名板球运动员的自传。作者:苏吉特-穆克吉。Ravi Dayal出版社;178页;14.95美元

世界上最好的板球运动员的一百本鬼画符般的自传都不值得这本由一个更谦虚的球员写的薄薄的书。苏吉特-穆克吉是一位文学评论家和孟加拉语的英语翻译,在20世纪50年代,他还为印度的比哈尔邦打过几场一级比赛,那里是板球的落后地区。他对自己的平庸感到平静。他写道,21岁时参加的州级选拔赛让他明白,"毫无疑问,这是我最应该取得的成绩"。然而,这种认识并没有削弱他对比赛的热爱,以及对比赛的纪念。他认为,板球能引起 "记忆和欲望的强烈混合","没有什么记忆比那些体现自己所见、所识、所玩的板球更生动,没有什么欲望更持久。" 他所挖掘的板球细节是关于其地点和时间的。他写道,为了输掉板球比赛,他坐着火车长途跋涉,嘎嘎作响地穿越印度。他敬畏地描述了凯文-克利里神父,这位痴迷于板球的牧师曾执教过他的学校球队,并在比赛中发挥了作用,"如果不是作为一个上帝的人,肯定是作为一个游戏的指导者。" 但他对板球的极端痴迷是永恒的,而且,在世界大部分地区是普遍的。

The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India. 作者:詹姆斯-阿斯蒂尔。Bloomsbury;304页;27美元和18.99英镑

我们的华盛顿分社社长写了这部获奖的印度板球社会史。它描述了印度腐败的板球政治,电视所有权的爆炸性增长使板球运动国有化,以及贫民窟居民和村民在其中找到的安慰。他曾在这些版面上认为,如果不是因为内战,美国人仍然会玩很多板球。■
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