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Looking forward to the miraculous

A preview of the World Cup M Magazine (India), June issue If in the course of a visit to planet earth, an intelligent being from another world attended the great sporting spectacles on offer here, he she or it, without the aid of a translator or explainer, would quickly grasp the essentials of football (even… Read more

League of scandals

Frontline (India) 8 May 2010 An abbreviated version of this article has been published on the Guardian’s Comment is free website. In the flush of its success, the IPL was held up as the face of the new, thrusting, ambitious India and its swelling status. “It is a global representation of India,” Lalit Modi argued,… Read more

Cricket, commerce and the future

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 14 March Also published in the Guardian’s Comment is free website, with readers’ responses. The third annual instalment of the Indian Premier League is being launched with even greater triumphalist trumpeting than the first two. The show is reeling in big sums and attracting worldwide attention. Lalit Modi is easily… Read more

Avatars in India

The Guardian, Comment is free 12 January 2010 Visiting friends in Delhi, I found the local media celebrating India’s performance at Copenhagen, from which it had emerged unburdened by the slightest commitment to reducing carbon emissions. This “climate nationalism” seemed particularly grotesque given that north India’s river systems are threatened by receding Himalayan glaciers and… Read more

Neither a business nor a cause

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, August-September 2009 Cricket emerges as the world’s first, modern organised team sport in the late 18th century, and is indelibly marked by that early origin. Its fate was intertwined with the political and economic revolutions of the era, and was shaped from the outset by a paradoxical mixture of… Read more

IPL blues

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 4 May Reading some English commentators on the Indian Premier League, you’d think it was the end of civilisation as we know it. For years there’s been a steady undercurrent of resentment at the expanding influence of India in world cricket. Now, with the IPL threatening to undermine the English… Read more

Games nations play

Outlook (India), 19 April The International Olympic Committee is hoist on its own petard. On the one hand, it insists that politics and sport must be kept separate. On the other, it relies entirely on cooperation with governments to stage its quadrennial show. So keeping politics out of sport ends up meaning keeping whatever is… Read more

In and out of his crease

Review: What Sport Tells Us About Life: Bradman’s Average, Zidane’s Kiss and other sporting lessons by Ed Smith. The Independent, 4 April Contrary to the title, this is really a book about what life tells us about sport, in particular, what we can learn about elite sport by examples and analyses drawn from other disciplines…. Read more

The privatisation of cricket

The Hindu, 9 March The most remarkable thing about the Indian Premier League player auction was the spectacle it generated. The heady mix of wealth and fame proved intoxicating for many, not least representatives of the media, who celebrated the auction as a triumph of the new India of the free market. For others it… Read more

Pitched battle

The Guardian, Comment is free 10 January In the angry contentions gripping world cricket following the Sydney Test between India and Australia, a number of disparate issues have become intertwined. To find a way through the thicket of questions raised by the imbroglio, it’s necessary to disentangle them. It’s also necessary to get beyond the… Read more