A cricket match, Peshawar, 1896 (c)
Photograph, India, North West Frontier, 1896 (c).
The British introduced cricket to India in the 18th century. Initially, Indians were only spectators to contests played between Army and Navy units, but by the late 19th century the game had acquired popular appeal. Both Hindu and Muslim native soldiers took up cricket with enthusiasum. For the British, cricket was part of their colonising mission. The cricketing historian Cecil Headlam, travelling in India during the 1903 Delhi Durbar, reflected on its place in the imperial scheme:
'First the hunter, the missionary, and the merchant, next the soldier and the politician, and then the cricketer - that is the history of British colonisation. And of these civilizing influences the last may, perhaps, be said to do least harm. The hunter may exterminate deserving species, the missionary may cause quarrels, the soldier may hector, the politician blunder - but cricket unites, as in India, the rulers and the ruled. It also provides a moral training, an education in pluck, nerve and self-restraint [that is] valuable to the character of the ordinary native'.
Like their British counterparts, Indian Army regiments took part in competitions against both Indian and British units stationed on the sub-continent. Today, Pakistan and India are both cricket-mad nations.
From an album of 107 photographs compiled by Col Joseph Hume Balfour, 13th Lancers, Indian Army, 1887 (c)-1912.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection
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