Come Wi Go Down Memory Lane: A Day at Cricket

Cricket/A Gentleman’s game/Massa’s [Master’s] game, historically, is a sport of significant cultural and political value to the people of the Caribbean. It was an elite sport played by ‘respectable men’ [men of stature] and was first introduced to the British colonies as an “instrument of imperial control”.[1] To be precise, the sport was presented as a tool of civilization for the ‘uncultured’, undisciplined men of the colonies. It was another psychological device that was supposed to yield men who were more susceptible to the ways and teachings of the colonial mediators of culture. However, within the process of mimicry, creolization took shape and the game was adapted to suit the ways and needs of the people. When West Indians realized that they could play, challenge and defeat Massa at his own game, cricket became an avenue for liberation and decolonization.

For West Indians, cricket was not just a sport, it was a medium through which they could constitutionally fight against racial, cultural, political and other injustices they endured as a result of slavery and colonialism. As such, the cricket pitch became a platform for them to demonstrate strength and equal or better competence in the execution of a so-called superior task.

“A Day at Cricket” was published in April 1956, the era of nationalization in the West Indies. The article offers a report on the wild imaginings of a young man as he tries to make sense of the game of cricket and identify the reasons for the immense value the sport holds for the people. The writer employed a humorous and quite creative approach in documenting a young persons’ ignorance of the sport and its significance to the society. It is often argued that post-independence generations are ignorant of the socio-cultural and political significance of cricket to the Caribbean. Do you feel that cricket has lost its meaning?

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[1] Hilary Beckles, “The Origins and Development of West Indies Cricket in the Nineteenth Century: Jamaica and Barbados”, In Liberation Cricket: West Indies Cricket Culture. Eds. Hilary Beckles and Brian Stoddart. (Manchester: New York: Manchester University Press; St. Martins Pres, 1995), 34.

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