The Cricket Bat of Liberation

For years I was a fan of the game cricket. I was drawn into the game initially after watching the Indian movie Lagaan, which tells the story of a multicultural group of colonial subjects, untouchables, Hindus, Muslims and Sihks all banding together to challenge British imperial power over their lives on a cricket pitch. In the movie, the Indian team is able to defeat their imperial master at a game that he had long used to establish their superiority over those they ruled. The anti-colonial premise of the film was realized over decades when teams, most notably the West Indies, were able to rise up, defeat and dominate their former colonizer. This team of blacks and browns was able to triumph over England and the other predominantly white cricketing nations. Other teams such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have followed. Postcolonial studies has taken up this issue, especially in the Caribbean, where we find CLR James’ book Beyond a Boundary.

Viv Richards, a famous West Indies batsmen, who helped carry his team to the championship heights during his time on the field once said, “In my own way, I would like to think that I carried my bat for the liberation of Africa and other oppressed people everywhere.”

Ya-hu este na sinangan. Parehu i hinasso-ku, na gaige todu todu i bidada-hu un guinife para un mas maolek un mas gailibre na tano’. Todu hu cho’gue, hu cho’guiguiyi i Chamorro siha, na un diha siña u mana’libre.

This sentiment, which can easily be explained as idealistic, easily co-opted, and just plain celebrity nonsense, nonetheless carries within it the dreams of a better world, the hopes for decolonization.

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