Test cricket, ‘slow sport’ & EP Thompson’s Time Work-Discipline

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2018 by kmflett

Test cricket ‘slow sport’  & EP Thompson’s Time Work-Discipline

The outcome of the First Test between England and India at Edgbaston on Saturday (England won by 31 runs) saw the ebb and flow of a game played over 4 days (5 days are possible).

It is a very different kind of cricket game to the T20, where sides play 20 overs each in an evening.

Mary Dejevsky has argued in the Guardian that Test cricket could be a beacon for ‘slow sport’ much like slow food or long form journalism. A counter-trend to a world where everything is of the moment and perhaps not enough is fully considered.

CLR James classic book on cricket, society and life Beyond a Boundary was published in 1963 the same year as EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, but it is another work of Thompson, published just 50 years ago, on Time Work-Discipline that really provides the framework for the future of Test cricket.

In the article Thompson detailed how the artisanal rhythms of pre-industrial life were replaced in the first half of the nineteenth century by the regimented disciplines of factory life. Things were and are dictated and measured by the clock.

It is perhaps those pressures that have led to declining attendances at Test matches in many areas of the cricketing world as the world of work has come to dominate ever more people’s lives.

Yet the world of work continues to change. Flexible working patterns and methods in some areas allow for a good deal more of the artisanal way of working than 50 years ago. Thompson details a world where intensive periods of work were followed by intensive periods of not working, but rather time off.

Perhaps that world, and with it an appreciation of a cricket Test Match as it plays out over four or five days, is returning or perhaps more accurately being made anew.

I’ve no idea by the way if Thompson was a cricket fan. I have a feeling he was but cannot now recall in the conversations I had with him whether we ever touched on it.


One Response to “Test cricket, ‘slow sport’ & EP Thompson’s Time Work-Discipline”

  1. Good insightful post Keith as usual but the big problem with test cricket is no free to air TV coverage. We’re a similar age and I’m sure can remember coming home from school and watching cricket on TV. Moustaches rather than beards then but still hirsute.

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