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Art and cricket

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Will Gompertz | 10:59 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

I like cricket, but perhaps not quite as much as the late Harold Pinter who apparently once said:

"I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth - certainly greater than sex, although sex isn't too bad either."

He don't like cricket, oh no, he loved it. And he's not alone among Thespians. For a game that for some lacks drama, cricket has been bowling theatrical types over for generations. Sarah Bernhardt, the famous French 19th Centry actress, was heard to remark, "I do like cricket, it's so very English."

Not any more mon cheri; it's moved on a bit. Emma Levine, the writer and photo-journalist, took these evocative pictures last year in Mumbai. The cricket-loving photographer started documenting locals playing the game across the subcontinent in the early 1990s and was "relieved" to find "the spirit of cricket remains" in the city that will be partially hosting the cricket World Cup in a few weeks' time.

Boys play cricket with palm tree 'stumps'

Palm tree 'stumps' with Rajabai Tower and Bombay Stock Exchange in background

Boys playing street cricket

Sunday street cricket at Masjid Bundar

Selling ice cream

No-frills ice cream vendor at Shevaji Park

Man repairing cricket bat

'Uncle' Zora repairs bats for local cricketers, Azad Maidan

Men waiting to bat in cricket game

Waiting to bat for a Sunday game at Shevaji Park

Men playing cricket

Night 'box' cricket match behind Crawford Market

Cricket players eat lunch

Dolphin team enjoy puri sabji for lunch at Shevaji Park

Boys playing cricket in the street

Makeshift stumps in a street cricket game at Masjid Bundar

Drinks cart at cricket game

Drinks cart refreshes thirsty cricketers at Azad Maidan

Man painting the crease in cricket match

Painting the crease for a practice match at Cross Maidan

You can see them and more at the Nehru Centre, South Audley St, London from 22 February in her show, Mumbai - A Cricketing Temple.


  • Comment number 1.

    We always played at our local "rec".Not the flattest of wickets I've ever batted on,it could turn anyone into Malcolm Marshall.I like the idea of a curry mid innings as well.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice pictures. Even I have grown up playing cricket on the streets and in our apartment. We have broken countless windows of houses on 1st and 2nd floors. Then we used to go n hide as if nothing has happened. Good old days :)

    Those grounds at Shivaji Park and Azad Maidan are always full. You will hardly find an inch space to play if you're late to the ground.

  • Comment number 3.

    Very occasionally I see a family playing cricket in the park, it certainly makes me reminisce about my childhood. Our motto now is 'No Ball Games' even in parks, school playgrounds and residential roads. No wonder the children have retreated to their Wii, X-Box & PS3's. Too much grief for the sake of playing a game.

    The joy of an impromptu game of cricket (or football) against other kids or mates is lost. Everything has to be organised and timed, I coach cricket and so many children only pick up a bat or ball in our sessions.

    Greats like Trueman learn't to bowl a yorker by bowling at the opposite curb now it has to be coached and shown on a video.

    Great photo's

  • Comment number 4.

    unrelated to whatever this post is about, I was wondering if the bbc simply has one article template about how much money a painting by an ostensibly famous artist is selling for and then you just change the names and figures and image every time thereby engendering the notion that the most interesting thing about most art is how much cash it rakes in?

  • Comment number 5.

    Wonderful photos - thank you!

    But why is it that batsmen get all the attention? As in the old days when batsman were gentleman and humble working folk were bowlers.

    There is art in bowling!


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