- The Changing Face of Cricket: From Imperial to Global Game
In the second edition of Consumer Culture and Postmodernism Featherstone (2007, p. xxi) remarks that central to consumer culture is the transformation “of lifestyle, living space, relationships, identities, and, of course, bodies.” Consumer culture itself has a developmental history of transformations, and, as Lee (1993, Consumer Culture Reborn, p. 135) suggests, the growing importance of cultural and service markets since the 1970s has represented a de-materialization of the commodity form and the growth of “experiential commodities” including cultural events, heritage attractions, theme parks, commercialized sport and other public spectacles. Lee concludes that the rapid growth of these experiential commodities represented a “push to accelerate commodity values and turnovers” (p.20) and “make more flexible and fluid the various opportunities and moments of consumption” (p. 137). Hence the last two decades of the twentieth century saw the restless search for novel ways to expand markets in the advanced capitalist economies and develop new ones elsewhere. Lee (p. 131) suggests that this explains the spread of consumerism to the rest of the world, the development of a vast children’s market, and “the deeper commercial penetration and commodification of the body, self and identity.” Sport has been part of this transformation and has been transformed in turn.
Arguably the sport of cricket has undergone a transformation into an emergent force in the spread of consumer culture in recent years. The consumer culture of the new capitalist creative knowledge and information economies does not rely on rational argumentation to persuade and promote but visual images, stylistic connotations and symbolic associations and consumerization is a process targeted at the emotions as much as, if not more than, the intellect. As Lash and Lury (2007, Global Culture Industry, p. 191) note the new global culture industry uses “play and mimicry…this emotionality—this affect—for the accumulation of capital.” [End Page 514]
The cover of this volume features a color photograph of a white cricket ball, representing the change from the conventional red ball that has overtaken cricket since one-day matches began to be played under floodlights. Yet the book already feels dated because it was first published as a special double issue of the journal Sport in Society in 2009. This collection offers nineteen chapters reviewing the state of the game of cricket from the vantage point of 2007/2008. In fact most of the contents record a moment, pre-2008, before the launch of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the rival Indian Cricket League (ICL), which led to a feud for supremacy that threatened the future of global cricket. This is described only briefly on pages 264–269, illustrating the time of publication. The development of the Twenty20 (T20) format of cricket, including the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and Indian Premier League (IPL) in India—and briefly one in the Caribbean funded by disgraced billionaire Sir Allen Stanford (the “Stanford 20/20 Tournament”)—were promising to shake up the format of the game in ways that had not been seen since the late 1970s when a “rebel” league (World Series Cricket) was established by Australian media tycoon Sir Kerry Packer in an effort to secure greater access to television rights. This book does not capture the changes that have taken place since then. Nonetheless it provides a useful stocktake of where we were in 2008.
The book offers a series of essays about the state of the game written by a group of contributors with diverse disciplinary backgrounds—journalism, cricket administration, political science, sociology—as well as sport history. Its main contribution of the book to the wider field of sport studies lies in the disciplinary fluidity, the rich detail provided regarding identity and the discussion of post-colonialism in association with cricket.
Cricket’s peculiarity is not its sports form as such but that as an English/British sports form it was institutionalized very early...