The Untold Story of English Cricket
by Duncan Stone
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Pub Date 11 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 09 Sep 2022
Repeater Books, Repeater
In 1963, the West Indian Marxist C.L.R. James posed the deceptively benign question: "What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?"
A challenge to the public to re-consider cricket and its meaning by placing the game in its true social, political and economic context, James was, all too subtly, attempting to counter the game’s orthodox history that, he argued, had played a key role in the formation of national culture. As a consequence, he failed, and the history of cricket in England has retained the same stresses and lineaments as it did a century ago — until now.
In examining recreational rather than professional (first-class) cricket, Different Class does not simply challenge the widely accepted orthodoxy of English cricket, it demonstrates how the values and belief systems at its heart were, under the guise of amateurism, intentionally developed in order to divide the English along class lines at every level of the game.
If the creation of opposing class-based cricket cultures in the North and South of England grew out of this process, the institutional structures developed by those in charge of English cricket continue to discriminate. But, as much as the exclusion of Black and South Asian cricketers from the recreational mainstream is the most obvious example, it is social class that remains the greatest barrier to participation in what used to be the national game.
“A modern-day John Arlott: uncomfortable but indispensable reading for those who love cricket but may so far have avoided Duncan Stone’s vital home truths about the game.” – Peter Hain, former chairman of the Stop the Seventy Tour campaign and Labour Peer
“Underneath cricket’s polished veneer of gentlemanly etiquette and fair play, the game has always been a seething cauldron of class conflict, racial hierarchy, and male chauvinism. In this fascinating journey through history, Duncan Stone goes back to the working-class roots of the game, lifts the lid on the myths that cricket lives by, and explains why it’s impossible not to love it.” – Tony Collins, author of Rugby League: A People’s History
“A wonderfully researched book in the great traditions of British iconoclastic writing the author punctures many cherished myths about the game and is a book all cricket lovers should read to learn where the game has come from and what is still wrong with it.” – Mihir Bose, author of The Nine Waves: The Extraordinary Story of Indian Cricket
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