PASSAGE OF PLAY : A rationale
One of the best books on cricket ever written, ‘Beyond a Boundary’ is unusual in a number of ways. The author, C.L.R. James was an academic, versed in the arts and social history. West Indian, a native of Trinidad, writer and political activist,he was also an astute observer of the human condition and a perceptive commentator on the game of cricket.
In the preface to ‘Beyond a Boundary’ he writes, ‘this book is neither cricket reminiscences nor autobiography. It poses the question, ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know? To answer involves ideas as well as facts.’
‘Passage of play’ has been informed by that understanding. In some ways it evolved with the writing. Partly autobiographical, it begins with my being named after an Australian Test Match cricketer* and tells of my growing love affair with the game. I have come to understand the truth which James so eloquently expounds, that cricket is a reflection of human life and society. So I have related significant aspects of my own story through the lens of cricket..how it has informed my perception of class, racism relationships, change, etc. The book explores this through cameos of players & events. In the introduction I say: ‘For me, cricket, especially in its longer form, mirrors life in all its varied shades and meanings . In the interaction between play and lived experience, both humorous and serious, I have been enriched, enlightened and inspired. What do they know of cricket who only cricket know? asked James. Perhaps he might have added that only those whose lives have been marked by the experience of failure and tragedy as well as success, and happiness can fully appreciate the game of cricket.
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*Warren Bardsley (New South Wales and Australia 1909-26) was an accomplished left-hand
batsman, made over fifty first-class centuries, and was the first player of any country to score a century in both innings of a Test Match (the Oval 1909)