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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: September 2012

16 - Writing the modern game


Like its subject, cricket writing might be divided, however simply, into two ages: imperial and post-imperial; the first dominated by English publishers and pens for the best part of three centuries, the second by an internationalism that removed England as the centre of attention. Was it mere coincidence that 1963, the year that saw Frank Worrell's West Indies team confirm the end of Test cricket's historic Anglo–Australian duopoly by trouncing England on their own pitches (two years later they would win a series against Australia for the first time), also saw the publication of Beyond a Boundary by C. L. R. James, the first internationally acclaimed cricket book by a non-Caucasian?

To James, familiarity with life beyond the boundary was essential to understanding what went on inside it, making him the first modern cricket writer. ‘The first to see beyond the two-dimensional were Sir Neville Cardus and Raymond Robertson-Glasgow’, attested the latest admirable editor of Wisden, Scyld Berry, whose own blue-sky thinking and dedication to the cause for The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph have been a blessing for close on four decades (his 1982 book Cricket Wallah, furthermore, was remarkably prescient in anticipating India's ascent). ‘They perceived the human side, the character, of a cricketer – Cardus as a subjective impressionist, Robertson-Glasgow from objective experience … Neither, though, went beyond the field of play to see a place where the cricketer was born and brought up, where he went to school or what community he represented. The first to do this, in my reading of the game, was C.L.R. James.’

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