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Old November 30, 2017, 11:51 AM
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mufi_02 mufi_02 is offline
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Default Anthology of Bangladesh Cricket- Part I

This is part I in the anthology series on Bangladesh cricket which will track the history of the game from the colonial time through the East Pakistan era and the subsequent decades.

Part I - Colonial Era

The quintessential British game is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the subcontinent. It surpassed in popularity in comparison to other commonwealth regions as well. But the game was brought in the colonies as a source of cultural dominance as anthropologist Arjuna Appadurai states –

Though there was never a conscious policy in regard to the support of cricket by the colonial regime in India, cricket evolved into an unofficial instrument of state cultural policy…Lord Harris, governor of Bombay from 1890-95, was perhaps the most crucial figure in the quasi-official patronage of cricket in India, and was followed by a succession of governors, both in Bombay and in the other Presidencies, who saw cricket as fulfilling the following range of tasks: solidifying the bonds of the empire, lubricating state dealings between various Indian ‘communities’, which might otherwise degenerate into communal (Hindu/Muslim) riots; and implanting English ideals of manliness, stamina, and vigor into Indian groups seen as lazy, enervated, and effete.
The first recorded cricket match in the colony dates back to the 1720s. In the Bengal region, the first cricket matches was played in Calcutta in 1792, the same year when Calcutta Cricket and Football Club was established. But the game remained hugely unknown on the other side of Bengal, which is presently known as Bangladesh.

British Soldiers playing cricket in Eden Gardens

Historian Boria Majumdad writes –

Cricket in Bengal, unlike in other parts of the country, owed much to the patronage of the educated middle class. The bhadralok, as this class was referred to, collaborated with the maharajas of Natore, Cooch Behar, Mymensingh and other native states in their efforts to make the game representative of Bengali society from the close of the 19th century.
The rural characteristic and poor infrastructure prevented British settlement on East Bengal. Complex river systems and the confluences of huge deltas coupled with mangrove forest made the navigation extremely difficult in this region. But the royal families of Natore and Cooch Behar played key roles in slowly adapting and promoting the game.

Starting from 1860s and 1870s, the British built new roads and started to settle in Dhaka and cricket officially came to East Bengal. While it remained vastly unknown among the native population, it soon became one of the favorite past time among the settlers. The first cricket match was played among a European XI and Native XVII in Dhaka in 1876. The partition of Bengal in 1905 re-established Dhaka’s eminence as a capital of Bengal after nearly 200 years.

Dhaka Race Course in 1890s

Popularity of the game grew exponentially in the West Bengal region. In 1936, Bengal joined the Ranji Trophy representing the East Zone and eventually won the trophy in 1939. But all the matches were played in Eden Gardens and the team was essentially represented by West Bengal.

Cricket formally came to the region after the end of World War II. The first official match in East Bengal was played in 1941 Bangabandhu National Stadium, then called the Dacca Stadium between Bengal Governor's XI and Bengal Gymkhana.

The region soon entered a period of turmoil and upheaval. Followed by 1905 partition, the colony and the Bengal region went through another partition along the religious lines. The two Bengals formally split and thus began the history of East Pakistan. The political unrest continued in East Pakistan for another 20 odd years while cricket was delegated to an afterthought.


Next in the Series

Part 2 : Cricket in East Pakistan Era : slow progress under oppression
Part 3 : Cricket in 1970s - A new country, renewed hope!

Last edited by mufi_02; November 30, 2017 at 02:25 PM..
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Old November 30, 2017, 11:54 AM
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aklemalp aklemalp is offline
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Wow! This is a good read.
“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi - مولوی
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Old November 30, 2017, 12:10 PM
Zeeshan Zeeshan is offline
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Amazing thread mufi. Heck didn't want to spoil it even by commenting. Do your thang, and jointly we should push it to the q upon completion.
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Old November 30, 2017, 12:34 PM
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mufi_02 mufi_02 is offline
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Thanks Zee. It will be while before I finish the entire series. It takes a long time to research and find sources. This small one took me few days and couple of books.
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Old November 30, 2017, 02:07 PM
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simon simon is offline
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interesting thread, thanks.
সবাই সুখে সুখী হলে বলো তবে হবে কে ভবঘুরে
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