“He had conned over [sic] the laws of cricket, which he considered good enough no doubt for pleasure-loving English people. But he proposed entirely altering them for the serious- minded Teuton.” Specifically, he “advocated the withdrawal of the use of pads. These artificial ‘bolsters’ he dismissed as unmanly and un-German . . . in the end he also recommended a bigger and harder ball.”
The article raises a more difficult question: is cricket inherently democratic? Given that its spread depended on decidedly imperialist origins, cricket may not be the best candidate for liberalism. (My American friends uniformly bring up this point when they ask how I, of an Indian origin, can like the colonizer’s game.) And, really, you don’t want to give cricket too much credit lest you fall into all that nonsense about “civilizing discourse” and “White Man’s Burden.”
But Desmond Tutu made the case for cricket best last year, when he told an English audience that “you drummed into us what the world saw as ‘fair play’ and what is not ‘fair play.’” What separates cricket from others is its insistence on good manners, which is why it’s disheartening to see defenses of Graeme Swann swearing at a Bangladeshi batsman. There are other elements, of course, like the appeals process: in other games, a referee can make a decision spontaneously; in cricket, an appeal must be made first.
Think, also, about cricket accommodates and pacifies violence. You’re allowed to bowl a ball at a batsman’s head, but only twice in one over. And your object should be to test a batsman’s reflex, not kill him (this isn’t the case in, say, American football or ice hockey or perhaps even rugby, where the violence is an end in itself).