… it was, after all – a little luck there, a stern battle there, in the sun or the foul light, going slow or flashing past – a glorious game.
In an age of ‘globalisation’ – a concept made sense of for many people through sporting events – it is worth reminding ourselves that cricket is a world game. To be sure, its extent and impact is less than that of association football, but few other team sports can equal cricket's global reach. Over the course of the twentieth century cricket spread across the globe and in the process the locus of power in the game shifted. When the English cricket mandarin Pelham Warner published Imperial Cricket in 1912 he described a game that had developed beyond rudimentary levels in only a handful of countries. The hub was very definitely to be found in England, even if pre-eminence in playing the game had already passed to Australia. A hundred years later 104 countries are members of its governing body, the ICC. This organisation bears the same initials as those it had at the time of its formation in 1909, when they denoted the Imperial Cricket Conference, a triumvirate of England, Australia and South Africa. Its influence was limited; power in the game rested largely with MCC at Lord's cricket ground, St John's Wood, London. But in the early twenty-first century there is no sense of the ICC being either a product of empire or a mere talking shop.