Cricket was a semi-amateurish game whose decision-making process was dominated by the white nations of the British Empire. Cricket had a role in maintaining the status of British imperialism through the exercise of soft power. In the past twenty years, however, the center of power in international cricket has shifted away from the Western nations to the non-Western nations and the Board of Control for Cricket in India has emerged as the hegemon in the multinational game that was born in England but has been appropriated by India. With this transformation we have seen the game enter the realm of modern commercialized and commodified sports. This chapter, therefore, discusses the changing nature of the power structure in cricket.
This chapter seeks to grapple with the contradictory ways in which sport and empire have intersected in various historical and geographical contexts, taking as its central examples the parallel of the contrasting histories of cricket, football, and baseball, which allow for exploration both of the well-trodden story of sport in the British empire and of the story of French and US empires. The focus is on the period from 1880 to 1940, though some of the broader implications and trajectories of sport and empire are also considered. The aim is ultimately to reflect on the complex and contradictory dynamics of diffusion, paying attention both to forms of hegemony exercised by colonial powers and to the agency and visions of the colonized who decided, in a striking array of places and societies, to begin playing a small number of global sports.