Even earlier than the Indian Nationwide Congress was formally fashioned in 1885, beneath the presidentship of Womesh Chondra Bannerjee, cricket was on the coronary heart of an early wrestle over the rights of citizenry. In October 1881, a petition was floated by the cricketers, addressed to the Governor of Bombay, James Fergusson, asking the bottom encroached by the European polo gamers to be cleared for cricket.
That is the way it learn:
“Bombay, India, 1881. Ever since the British introduced the noble game of cricket among the natives of Bombay nearly twenty years ago, more than five hundred young men of all ages and of all castes pursue this healthful sport on the Parade Ground where alone they are permitted to play and which is the only ground suitable for cricket. Therefore, we cannot understand that the comforts and convenience of the half-a-dozen English gentlemen, who generally play polo, should be preferred to the necessary healthful recreation of over five hundred native youths. The polo ponies completely ruin the turf and render the ground unsuited to cricket. Under the circumstances, will your Excellency and council please request that the English play polo on another spot or allow your Petitioners to play along with the English on the ground at present reserved for the exclusive use of the English cricketers and which is much too large for their requirements?”
The petition did the trick, and so they bought their floor cleared off something aside from cricket. However inside a yr, the Polo gamers have been again, claiming the grounds for 2 days per week. Cricketers sulked once more.
However information got here in 1891 that the brand new Governor from England Lord Harris had arrived. There was loads of hagiography about Harris and his relationship with cricket in India within the distant previous, which has been successfully dispelled by the historian Ramachandra Guha in his quite a few works, however for now, the main target is simply on his preliminary foray into cricket in India.
The cricketers realised that Harris was a well-known cricketer, a former captain of England, an esteemed member of London’s MCC – and so he may very well be in concept coaxed to offer full management of the bottom to cricketers. And they also petitioned him.
That is what they wrote: ’… absolutely imagine that your Excellency is absolutely conscious that even in England there are huge grounds reserved for cricket alone and the very thought of the turf being spoilt by the polo ponies wouldn’t be for a second tolerated by the authorities’ (or certainly, by the cricketers).”
Harris sorted out the battle by allotting land, ‘reclaimed’ from the ocean for the unique use of native Indian cricketers. The land was carved up in three plots: for Parsis, Hindus, and Islam Gymkhanas.
Cricket bought its piece of land. After all, by no means thoughts the truth that polo itself is taken into account of Indo-Iranian in its origins, and it may very well be argued that it was extra indigenous than cricket, which got here from the British. However within the nineteenth century Bombay, polo wasn’t a common-man’s sport. Who may afford a pony, in any case?
As the favored line from Jerry Seinfeld’s eponymous sitcom goes, “I hate anyone that ever had a pony when they were growing up.” And when the Polish grandmother character is damage and leaves the dinner desk, Seinfeld would let loose an anguished stream: “I didn’t know she had a pony. How was I to know she had a pony? Who figures an immigrant’s going to have a pony? Do you know what the odds are on that? I mean, in all the pictures I saw of immigrants on boats coming into New York harbor, I never saw one of them sitting on a pony. Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn’t make sense.. am I wrong?!”
The Indian cricketers didn’t fairly use these traces however their direct formal plea labored.
‘No Government, and no governing class in the world, ever gave to the governed voluntarily, readily, or cheerfully any rights or privileges which in fairness belonged to them. These are always, as history teaches us, obtained after struggles of more or less persistency’,” wrote the historian Shapoorjee Sorabjee, the writer of The Battle: Polo versus Cricket’.
It might finally result in formation of a Pentangular cricket with Parsis, Hindus, and Europeans in a triangular contest. Later, a workforce of Muslims would be part of to make it four-pronged. Later, a workforce of “Rest” was fashioned to accommodate the opposite spiritual denominations.
Years later, simply earlier than independence, Mahatma Gandhi would urge the countryman to cease the “communal” pentangular match, and it could quickly be disbanded.
“I would like the public of Bombay to revise their sporting code and erase from it communal matches. I can understand matches between colleges and institutions, but I never understood reasons for having Hindu, Parsi, Muslim and other communal Elevens. I should have thought that such unsportsmanlike divisions would be considered taboos in sporting language and sporting manners,” wrote Gandhi. “Can we not have some field of life which cannot be touched by the communal spirit?”