Why cricket has been a potent vehicle for nationalism in Bangladesh

Garga Chatterjee in Scroll.in:

The rise of the Bangladesh cricket team has been one of the biggest stories of the cricketing word in recent years. The team has evolved from being a pariah to a weak side whose test-playing status was questioned to a scrappy maverick side to occasional giant killers to its present status as a worthy cricketing force. All through this rise, cricket in Bangladesh, as elsewhere in the subcontinent, has been a potent vehicle for nationalism.

Before 1971, cricket was scorned by East Bengalis because it was seen as a game that lighter-skinned sharif elites played. I once heard an anecdote revealing this attitude from a person who was visiting a veteran left-wing trade unionist in Barisal, Bangladesh. The veteran fighter of the masses was irritated by the enthusiasm for cricket among Barisal’s youth. “Amago polapain khyalbe cricket? Cricket khyallbe Hanif Mohammed. (Our boys will play cricket? Cricket is for Hanif Mohammed),” he said. Hanif Mohammed was a legendary cricketer from Jamnagar and then West Pakistan. For the trade unionist, as for many others, cricket and Bengalis were incompatible.

Read more: Why cricket has been a potent vehicle for nationalism in Bangladesh.

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