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Cover

Cricket Country

An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire

Prashant Kidambi

21 July 2022

ISBN: 9780198843146

448 pages
Paperback
216x135mm

In Stock

Price: £16.99

The extraordinary story of the first 'All India' national cricket tour of Great Britain and Ireland - and how the idea of India as a nation took shape on the cricket pitch.

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The extraordinary story of the first 'All India' national cricket tour of Great Britain and Ireland - and how the idea of India as a nation took shape on the cricket pitch.

  • Drawing on an unparalleled range of original archival sources, Cricket Country is the story of this first 'All India' national cricket tour of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • The extraordinary tale of how the idea of India took shape on the cricket pitch long before the country gained its political independence.
  • A tale with an improbable cast of characters, set against the backdrop of anti-colonial protest and revolutionary terrorism in the high noon of Edwardian imperialism, with an Indian team that included the young, newly enthroned, ruler of the most powerful Sikh state in India as its captain and, remarkably for the day, two Dalit cricketers as well.
  • Over the course of a historic tour in the blazing Coronation summer of 1911, these Indian cricketers participated in a collective enterprise that epitomizes the role played by sport in fashioning the imagined communities of both nation and empire.
  • Shortlisted for the 2020 Wolfson History Book Prize

About the Author(s)

Prashant Kidambi, Associate Professor in Colonial Urban History School of History, Politics and International Relations University of Leicester

Prashant Kidambi is Associate Professor in Colonial Urban History at the University of Leicester. After completing graduate degrees in History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to pursue a doctorate at the University of Oxford. His research explores the interface between British imperialism and the history of modern South Asia, with a specific focus on cities. In addition to numerous articles in journals and edited volumes, he is the author of The Making of an Indian Metropolis: Colonial Governance and Public Culture in Bombay, 1890-1920 (Aldershot, 2007; London and New York, 2016). His other research interests include the social history of sport in colonial and postcolonial India.

Table of Contents

    Preface
    1:Parsi Pioneers
    2:Imperial Wanderers
    3:Elusive Quest
    4:Reviving the Dream
    5:Men in White
    6:The Captain's Story
    7:City of the World
    8:Indian Summer
    9:Lost and Won
    10:Beyond the Boundary
    11:Ends and Beginnings
    Bibliography
    Index

Reviews

"For scholars involved in the humanities and social sciences of sport, there is much to learn and use from the findings reported by Kidambi from his archival research. For the philosophers of sport, this material should also prompt further reflection on the implications of spreading sports over large geographical areas while sticking to formally unified technical frameworks." - Jacob Kornbeck, The International Journal of the History of Sport

"Shortlisted for the 2020 Wolfson History Prize"

"Selected as a 2019 Sport Book of the Year in The Financial Times"

"Prashant Kidambi tells the intriguing story of the first "All-India", and largely forgotten, team to reach British shores ... Kidambi's achievement is to retrieve from obscurity the backbone of the team, including a Dalit, or low-caste, bowler Palwankar Baloo, and Muslim cricketers from the Islamic educational centre of Aligarh." - James Lamont, The Financial Times

"5* review: This book is an engagingly written and deeply researched social history of the last days of imperial Britain, and the first days of Modern India. The 1911 tour is used as a framing device through which the author explores the ties that bound the colony together and the slow beginnings of an Indian nationhood. It is a history book, not a cricket book, and all the better for it." - Theo Barclay, The Daily Telegraph

"Kidambi's forensic eye and vast array of sources make for a ... nuanced revisionism. Not that he pulls his punches." - Shomit Dutta, The Times Literary Supplement

"Cricket Country explores both the history of imperial British cricket in India and colonial Indian cricket in Britain, as well as cricket as a vehicle for nation-building, cultural diplomacy, imperial pedagogy and masculinity, but at its heart tells the tale of a group of men in search of sporting glory... Prashant Kidambi traces the story with great detail, which will delight cricket enthusiasts." - Shompa Lahiri, BBC History Magazine

"You don't have to know a lot about cricket, or even be an enthusiast, to enjoy this book ... [Kidambi] uses a lot of archival material, and presents a lot of original research, but writes it in a very engaging way." - Richard Evans, Five Books (The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist)

"Kidambi has produced a masterly piece of sports scholarship, fit to be considered alongside books on more weighty historical subjects. The depth of his research is extraordinary and his knowledge of Indian history [...] is just as important as his knowledge of cricket ... this is a terrific book." - Richard Whitehead, The Cricketer

"This is a richly detailed, rewarding, fascinating book." - Alex Massie, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2020

"The book is 10 years' work and it shows, in its elegance and detail. By going somewhere so unexplored, and producing something so original, Kidambi lays claim to being a Rahul Dravid among cricket historians." - Gideon Haigh, The Australian

"a formidable piece of scholarship that recreates the time in staggering detail." - Sharda Ugra, ESPNcricinfo

"The work that has gone into Cricket Country is astonishing... there is still a particular pleasure to be had from the experience of reading a book as well edited and produced as this one... Cricket Country goes well beyond the usual parameters of cricket writing... for those who are interested in where the Indian game has come from it really is a 'must read'." - Martin Chandler, Cricket Web

"Meticulously researched and impeccably sourced, this is a first-rate book of serious history that also happens to be about cricket... A well written and important book on a little-known tour." - Richard Lawrence, The Cricket Statistician

"A serious contribution to the literature on Indian cricket history and cricket's position in the British Empire. Beyond that, it is an engrossing and thoroughly engaging read." - Neil Robinson, MCC Magazine

"With a nod to Edmund Blunden's famous book in his title, Kidambi tells the little-known tale of the first Indian cricket team to tour England, in the summer of 1911. This may well become a classic to rank alongside the very best of cricket books." - Mike Sansbury, The Grove Bookshop

"This magnificent book recreates the forgotten story of the first All India cricket team, which toured England in 1911. Featuring Brahmins and Dalits, Parsis and Muslims, and led by a Sikh, this team was forging the idea of India on the sporting field while Mohandas K. Gandhi was still an expatriate in South Africa. It is a fascinating tale, and Prashant Kidambi tells it beautifully. He juxtaposes vivid quotations from primary sources with deft sketches of personalities, close accounts of cricket matches won and lost with thoughtful meditations on imperialism and nationalism. Scholars, students, history and sports buffs, will all find reading Cricket Country an enormously educative as well as hugely enjoyable experience. I certainly did." - Ramachandra Guha, author of Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948

"More than a hundred summers ago, an All-India cricket team toured England for the first time. Prashant Kidambi's wonderful account of that pioneering team and its bid to represent a sub-continent is the story of a motley band of cricketers calling India into being. Through the history and itinerary of this would-be 'Indian' team, Kidambi cunningly explores the meaning of belonging and representation in British India. Cricket Country s easily the most enjoyable non-fiction book you'll read this year." - Mukul Kesavan, author of Men in White: A Book of Cricket

"Kidambi tells an intriguing story exceptionally well." - Shreedutta Chidananda, The Hindu

"heavily researched and stylishly written" - The Tribune

"Cricket Country tells [its] riveting story with passion and authority." - Suresh Menon, The Hindu

"A beatifully researched history" - Supriya Nair, Mumbai Mirror

"Cricket Country ... is as much about the country as it is about cricket. It is a book of history that uses cricket as a framing device... [It] offers ... fascinating insights." - Salil Tripathi, Mint

"Remarkably researched... The account of the tour is engrossing" - Uddalak Mukherjee, Telegraph India

"As you get pulled into the book, there is melodrama, rioting, political manoeuvring and sneering condescension in a tight partnership with nauseating sycophancy, drunkenness, sporting skulduggery and back-stabbing." - Ruchir Joshi, India Today