Professor Clem Seecharan, the award winning Guya-nese historiographer, has just published the follow-on book from his masterly 2005 biography of Jock Campbell, that won the Elsa Goveia Prize of the Association of Caribbean Historians.
Seecharan's new book is on the place of cricket in colonial British Guiana and the West Indies. Muscular Learning-Cricket and Education in the Making of the British West Indies at the End of the 19th Century, is once again published by Ian Randle Publishers in Kingston, Miami and London. Following in the footsteps of CLR James, it is a sociology of cricket under colonialism. Britain exported it to all of the Empire from her public schools. The game provided a palliative for workers, especially on the sugar plantations but also a space where the divergent 'native' races could mix on nearly equal terms.
It provided a forum for the Indian-origin rural peasantry to interact with the African-origin proletariat and their white, or nearly white, 'masters'. The catalyst often used to propagate the 'religion' of cricket was the presence of a few non- whites in elite schools such as Queen's College in Guyana and QRC in Trinidad. They, like their English models, specialized in turning cricket into an art, field of intellectual interest and a social cement.
The game and a place at the elite schools provided a way to belong to the society however lowly your true position. As Seecharan puts it 'instruments of deliverance, resulting in the creation of a discreet Anglo-phone Caribbean identity in spite of resilient ethnic rivalries.' The book culminates in the first West Indian tour of 'the homeland'-England- in 1900, Seecharan is an acknowledged academic expert on the subject of cricket. He runs the only university course in Britain on the history and sociology of West Indian cricket at his university - London Metropolitan - in North London. Each year there he also organizes a Frank Worrell memorial lecture on a cricketing subject. Last year, Ian Mc Donald of Guyana delivered it, This year the Worrell lecturer - in June - will be Michael Atherton, former England test captain, seen by some as 'the new Richie Benaud' of cricket commentary.
Seecharan's new magnum opus is obtainable via bookshops and the internet, ISBN 976-637-230-6 Cost US$24.95