In 1963, the West Indian Marxist C.L.R. James posed the deceptively benign question: “What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?”
A challenge to the public to re-consider cricket and its meaning, James was, all too subtly, attempting to counter the game’s elitist orthodoxy. Regrettably, he failed, and the history of cricket in England remains as it did a century ago — until now.
In examining recreational rather than professional (first-class) cricket, Different Class does not merely challenge the orthodoxy of English cricket, it demonstrates how the values and belief systems at its heart were developed in order to divide the English at every level of the game.
Indeed, be it the discrete cricket cultures of the “urban” North and the “rural” South of England, gender, social class or race; the history of recreational cricket tells us more about the (un)changing nature of English society — and how it works — than any study of the first-class game ever could.