The ninth Sport in History Podcast brought to you by the British Society of Sport History in association with the Institute of Historical Research continues the summer interview season. This week Geoff is talking to the cricket historian Dr Richard Parry about cricket and the turbulent history of South Africa in the twentieth century.
Rich – as he’s known to friends – talks about the relatively little known history of African cricket on the Rand from its origin in the late nineteenth century to the beginning of the apartheid state after the Second World War. In particular we discuss the role of cricket in efforts by the racist colonial state to enforce social control on African labour and the way in which at the same time cricket acted as a means of appropriating the ‘English game’ and transforming it into a vehicle for the social and financial advancement of black players of the game.
Rich’s work as a historian of cricket reflects his beginnings as a postgrad researcher into political resistance to colonial rule on the Cape and in Rhodesia. His latest work is part of a wider movement among cricket historians that has sought to integrate sport into the mainstream account of social history in South Africa. This has seen two edited collections published so far taking the history of the game from the nineteenth century via the D’Oliveira Affair to the isolation of the South African cricket team from the Test arena in 1971, Empire & Cricket: The South African Experience 1884-1914 and Cricket and Society in South Africa, 1910-1971. Full disclosure, I also contributed a chapter to each of the books in question.
Dr Richard Parry left South Africa during his student years in the 1970s as a conscientious objector against the racist apartheid state and completed a Masters at Queen’s University, Canada which examined the role of Cecil Rhodes in the development of a segregated society on the Cape. His subsequent PhD at Queen’s examined black worker resistance to colonial power in Rhodesia. While working as a civil servant in the UK and for the OECD in Paris he has continued to write history which combines his love of cricket with his established interest in the resistance to colonialism in Africa.
Cricket and Society in South Africa, edited by Bruce Murray, Rich Parry and Jonty Winch was published by Palgrave in 2018 and is available here.
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