14. Nandy Wistful Camel

14. Nandy Wistful Camel - The Wistful Camel and the Eye o f...

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I 2 The Wistful Camel and the Eye of the Needle ~ricket came to India even before British colonial rule began. Accord- ~ng to o~e acc~unt, stumps were first pitched on Indian soil as early as m 1721. The first recorded instance of a formal cricket match in India was a g~me in I ~~4 between two teams of Englishmen in Calcutta, then the capital of Bnt1sh India. Though the Calcutta Cricket Club had be fou~ded in 1792, it probably concentrated on informal fixtures in h~ earlier years. · Indian_s had little to do with these pioneering efforts. The Calcutta Club, formstance, did not even admit Indians at the time. It took another half. a. centur~ for the game to spread to the natives. Upper-class, anglicized Indmn communities and feudal princes were the first to take to the game. Foremost among them were the Parsis who were also the first t? ?roduce cricket writers in India. Here is one of these writers, descnbmg an early Parsi cricketer at Bombay: ~e _wen~ to the wicket with a white band around his forehead, giv~ng him quite the air of the inmate of some hospital, and a still whiter apron dangl~ng f~om his waist, which was encircled by tlie sacred thre~d of his fmth. Thus equipped, with patent leather boots and silken trousers, he was a fit study for an artist.2 · Appropriately enough, when the first Indian cricket team visited Englan? i~ 188?: it was an all-Parsi affair. And the acclaim for the ente~nse m BI~tish journals and newspapers made clear its political meanmg. Here IS an instance: The Parsee fraternity is the most intelligent as well as the mo~t loyal of the races scattered over our Indian possessions. For some years . . past the Parsees have given sufficient proof of their af~ect1?n f?r our national game, and striven hard, in spite of great climatic disadvantages, to acquit themselves with credit on the The Wistful Camel and the Eye of the Needle 53 cricket field. 3 What was left unsaid in such compliments had already been ~aid by the redoubtable Sir P.M. Mehta (1845-1915) at a farewell dinner in honour of the team before its departure from India: . As artists go to Italy to do homage to Great Masters, or as pilgrims go to Jerusalem to worship at a shrine, or as students in the Middle Ages went to the great seats of learning in places where science and philosophy had made their home, so now the Parsees are going to England to do homage to the English cricketers, to learn something of that noble and manly pastime in the very country which is its chosen home. 4 The popularity ofthe game among such groups was not surprising, given the nature of the social support the game enjoyed in the country of its origin. Anglicized Indians were bound to see cricket as an identifier of social status and as a means of access to the power elite of the raj. Even the fact that cricketwas an expensive game by Indian standm:ds strengthened these connections. Early cricket -lovers in India were left in no doubt that cricket was the
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course HIST 303 taught by Professor Salesa during the Fall '10 term at University of Michigan.

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14. Nandy Wistful Camel - The Wistful Camel and the Eye o f...

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