Those outside England won’t be able to see it (unless an enterprising person does some illegal YouTube work), but BBC2 will air a documentary tonight on the social and cultural history of cricket. Here’s the description:
The English invented cricket, created its rules and a whole moral code for the game. They then exported this elegant game of bat and ball to the wider British Empire. But England began to struggle when the natives began to play the game so much better.
The English game was also divided by class and held back by its own traditions. Until the 1960s, cricket was literally divided between upper class gentlemen, the amateurs and lower class players, the professionals. Even the way players addressed the ball had class connotations, with exuberant off-side shots being presented in training manuals as somehow having greater value than more workmanlike leg-side scoring.
In telling the story of cricket in England, Empire of Cricket explores the careers of great cricketers from Grace to Hobbs, Hutton to Illingworth, Botham to Pietersen. It also shows how cricket in England has been influenced by historical and cultural factors that have shaped the game we know today.
UPDATE: I’ve been “watching” the documentary on Twitter, and it really does sound intriguing. For instance:
redpied: BBC 2 Empire of Cricket Brian Close with no Helmet on brave or reckless …………..or nuts
simonpjbest: Empire of Cricket just showed the precursors of the nPower girls.