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England cricket captain in retro mode

“In my opinion there’s a line and that line was crossed today.” That was Alastair Cook’s aggrieved response to the Sri Lankan spin bowler Senanayake running out the England batter Buttler at the non-striker’s end in yesterday’s One Day International. The England captain’s statement was, to speak plainly, self-righteous guff, a sad throwback to the… Read more

A level playing field? Global sport in the neo-liberal age

Contending for the living Red Pepper, June-July 2014 One of the hallmarks of the neo-liberal age has been the exponential expansion of commercial spectator sport – in its economic value, political role and cultural presence. All of which will be thrown into high relief during the coming World Cup. In recent years, the industry has… Read more

Neoliberal games

International Socialist Review, Issue 93, Summer 2014 Mike Marqusee reviews Brazil’s Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy, by Dave Zirin (Haymarket Books). From June 12, the month-long soccer World Cup will capture global audiences of hundreds of millions, generating vast revenues for FIFA (the game’s notoriously venal… Read more

Clay vs Liston: how a new horizon was opened

Fifty years ago, Cassius Clay “shook up the world” by winning the heavyweight title – and embracing the Nation of Islam On the night of February 25, 1964, the 22 year old Cassius Clay defeated the supposedly undefeatable Sonny Liston to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. It was an upset of historic proportions… Read more

The Nazi Olympics – a missed opportunity?

As Gareth Edwards reminds us in his excellent letter in today’s Guardian, Jesse Owens was able to give the Nazis that slap-in-the-face at the 1936 Berlin Olympics because the boycott campaign preceding it had not been strong enough to stop the US, British and other national Olympic authorities from taking part. In the US, as… Read more

Why cricket?

Published in Wisden India Almanack 2014, edited by Suresh Menon. Let’s imagine a group of ultra-intelligent extra-terrestrials who visit earth and find themselves at a cricket match. I’d submit that, given sufficient time, they would be able to deduce the rules of the game in their entirety (even the lbw law) from direct observation, without… Read more

Cricket in the USA: watching and being watched

In the strangest and most distressing cricket story of the summer, it appears that New York police have compiled lists of the city’s cricket grounds, along with cafes and restaurants where people gather to watch international cricket on TV, in order to facilitate surveillance of the Muslim population. Some years back I was passing through… Read more

The “biggest” book about cricket: a tribute to Beyond a Boundary

Five decades ago, in the pages of The Cricketer, John Arlott dubbed Beyond a Boundary “in the intellectual sense… quite the ‘biggest’ book about cricket” ever written. That judgement stands, but it’s almost a disservice to a book that is, among so many other things, hugely entertaining. CLR James’ Beyond a Boundary remains uncategorisable, a… Read more

The man who went beyond a boundary

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, February-March 2013 When CLR James’ Beyond A Boundary was first published fifty years ago, the sociology of sport and the politics of popular culture had no place in the academy or on the left. The book had to create its own subject, define a new field of intervention. James… Read more

A day at Lord’s

The cricket was excellent, with the advantage swinging back and forth, superb bowling by Steyn and Morkel and impressive batting by Bell and especially the young Bairstow. My only problem, as a spectator, was the crowd. First, it was almost uniformly white, male and affluent. In fact, this was the whitest and male-est crowd I’ve… Read more