4. History and sport [ The Story of Cricket ]
Cricket And Victorian England
The organisation of cricket in England reflected the nature of English society.
The players were divided into two groups
(A) Professionals and (B) Amateurs
(i) Those persons who played cricket for a living were called professionals
The wages of professionals were paid by patronage or subscription or gate money. The game was seasonal and did not offer employment the year round.
Most professionals worked as miners or in other forms of working class employment in winter, the off-season.
(ii) The rich who could afford to play it for pleasure were called amateurs and the poor who played it for a living were called professionals.
A. The rich were amateurs for two reasons :
One, they considered sport a kind of leisure. To play for the pleasure of playing and not for money was an aristocratic value. Two, there was not enough money in the game for the rich to be interested.
(i) The social superiority of amateurs was built into the customs of cricket. Amateurs were called Gentlemen while professionals had to be content with being described as Players.
(ii) They entered the ground from different entrances.
(iii) Amateurs tended to be batsmen, leaving the energetic, hardworking aspects of the game, like fast bowling, to the professionals. That is partly why the laws of the game always give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman.
B. Cricket a batsman's game :
Cricket is a batsman’s game because its rules were made to favour ‘Gentlemen’, who did most of the batting. The social superiority of the amateur was also the reason the captain of a cricket team was traditionally a batsman: not because batsmen were naturally better captains but because they were generally Gentlemen. Captains of teams, whether club teams or national sides, were always amateurs. It was not till the 1930s that the English Test team was led by a professional, the Yorkshire batsman, Len Hutton.
C. "Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton" :
In actual fact the Napoleonic wars were won because of the economic contribution of the iron works of Scotland and Wales, the mills of Lancashire and the financial houses of the City of London. It was the English lead in trade and industry that made Britain the world’s greatest power, but it suited the English ruling class to believe that it was the superior character of its young men, built in boarding schools, playing gentlemanly games like cricket, that tipped the balance.
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