Cricket and Conquest: 1795-1914

Cricket and Conquest

Publisher: Best Red
Availability:in stock 1000 item(s)
Width: 148MM
Height: 210MM

About the book

The first of its kind for any sport in South Africa. A cricket love story of epic dimensions with details which will blow readers away. Cricket and Conquest goes back to the beginnings 221 years ago and fundamentally revises long-established foundational narratives of early South African cricket. It reaches beyond old whites-only mainstream histories to integrate at every stage and in every region the experiences of black and women cricketers. 

A purely British military game at first, cricket accompanied the process of colonial conquest every step of the way in the nineteenth century. This book and its companion volumes explains how racism came to be built into the very fabric of cricket's 'culture' and 'traditions', and how it was uncannily tied to the broader historical processes that shaped South Africa. The unique experiences of our different cricket communities are described in ways that have not been done before. The exhaustive research and inter-connections highlighted here makes this a COMPLETELY NEW general history of South African cricket.

About the authors

Andre Odendaal, the lead writer and project co-ordinator of this book and the three accompanying volumes, is an Honorary Professor in History and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with a PhD in History from Cambridge University, he taught at UWC and was Founding Director of both the Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa and the Robben Island Museum, the first heritage institution of the new South African democracy.  After this, he took over for ten years as CEO at the historic Newlands Cricket Ground and the successful Cape Cobras professional team and Western Province. He played first-class cricket for Boland (SACU), Transvaal and Western Province (SACB), as well as Cambridge University in England. An anti-apartheid activist in the 1980s, he was the only provincial cricketer designated 'white' to join the non-racial SACOS during the apartheid years. He chaired the UCBSA's Transformation Monitoring Committee from 1998 to 2002. In that year he received the President's Award for Sport (Silver Class) for his contribution to bringing about change in sport.  Andre has written ten books on the history of the liberation struggle and the social history of sport in South Africa, including Vukani Bantu! (1984), The Story of an African Game (2003) and The Founders (2012). He is currently also research consultant and writer for the Albie Sachs Trust on Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law.

Krish Reddy has painstakingly recovered much of the lost statistical records of black and non-racial cricket in Natal and South Africa, details of which were published regularly in the Mutual and Federal South African Cricket Annual from 1996 to 2004. In 1986 he compiled a history of the Natal Cricket Board as part of their 25th anniversary celebrations. He is the author of The Other Side: A miscellany of black cricket in Natal, published in 1999 and also the co-author with Ashwin Desai, Vishnu Padayachee and Goolam Vahed of Blacks in Whites, a century of cricket struggles in KwaZulu-Natal, published in 2002.

The UK-based Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians chose him as their Statistician of the Year in 2007 for his research on the scores of 223 first-class matches in non-racial cricket in South Africa during the period 1971 to 1991. In December 2009 he was awarded the ICC Volunteers' Medal 'in recognition of outstanding service to cricket'. After several years of close involvement with the non-racial Natal Cricket Board, Krish served a three-year term on the executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union after unity in 1991. He was also a provincial selector for ten consecutive seasons from 1996/97 to 2005/06. A retired school principal, Krish is a patron of the Kwa-Zulu/Natal Cricket Union.

Christopher Merrett was born in Britain, grew up in the Bahamas and has lived in South Africa since 1975. He has a BA (Hons) degree in Geography, Masters degrees in Library Science and Geography, and a PhD in History – from the universities of Oxford, Sheffield, Natal and Cape Town. Christopher worked for thirty years in libraries, becoming University Librarian at University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg campus) in 1996. After serving as Director of Administration on the same campus from 2002 to 2007, he
switched careers and spent seven years in the newsroom of The Witness. His writing has concentrated on the history and politics of South African sport; human rights issues; and the local history of Pietermaritzburg. He has written or co-authored five books including A Culture of Censorship: Secrecy and Intellectual Repression in South Africa (1994) and Caught Behind: Race and Politics in Springbok Cricket (with Bruce Murray, 2004). A member of the path-breaking Aurora Cricket Club from 1979, he umpired nearly one hundred league and inter-district matches, and two SACB first-class matches in 1982. He was also secretary of the Maritzburg District Cricket Union for five years and contributed to the protests against rebel teams who defied the sports boycott of South Africa. During the State of Emergency of the late 1980s he was a member of the Pietermaritzburg Detainees Support Committee and was charged with two others under the Foreign Funding Act.

Jonty Winch grew up in Zimbabwe and has worked in education, journalism and photography in southern Africa and Britain. 
He received a Master of Arts degree with distinction from De Montfort University's International Centre for Sports History and Culture and was then awarded his PhD from the University of Stellenbosch. He has written six books including Cricket's Rich Heritage: A History of Rhodesian and Zimbabwean Cricket 1890-1982; Cricket in Southern Africa: Two Hundred Years of Achievements and Records; and England's Youngest Captain: the Life and Times of Monty Bowden and Two South African Journalists. He has also produced articles for accredited international academic journals, winning the British Society of Sports History's 'Best Article in Sport in History' in 2008.  His path-breaking writing on the development of imperial games in nineteenth-century South Africa has helped create a better understanding of the connections between sport and politics at that time.  Jonty's sporting interests have included playing rugby in Italy and coaching touring teams to Spain (Wits University canoeing) and to England (a basketball team from Zimbabwe).




  1. Cricket comes by boat to Africa
  2. First port of call: Cape Town, 1795 onwards
  3. Second port of call: The eastern Cape, 1810s onwards
  4. The beginnings of a unique African cricket tradition
  5. Berthing in Port Natal, 1840s onwards
  6. Cricket reaches the interior Highveld: The Boer Republics, 1850s onwards
  7. The New Rush: Diamonds, dust and cricket in a new territory called Griqualand West, 1870s onwards
  8. Southern Africa and the spread of cricket across the world


  1. Cricket, war and change
  2. Champion Bat ushers in new era: The launch of Inter-Town tournaments, 1875/76 onwards
  3. 'Native' Champions: A second Inter-Town tournament, 1884/85 onwards
  4. Abantu nabaNgesi ('The people and the English'): Cricket, colour and citizenship in the 1880s
  5. The MCC of the Cape Colony: Stiff upper lips in the 'classaic and perennially fragrant metropolis'
  6. The balance shifts from the Military to the Money: The rise of Kimberley and the birth of Johannesburg
  7. Subjugated memory: Reconstituting the statistical record of cricket (The Inter- Town Tournaments, 1876-1898)


  1. 'Time for South Africa to send Home something besides gold, diamonds and millionaires': From Inter-Town to International cricket
  2. First international team arrives in Africa
  3. Journey that inscribed Empire and Cricket onto the landscape of a sub-continent
  4. The first South African team and test matches
  5. 'Home', 'New Chums' and the assertion of South African cricket identities
  6. 'Gentlemen, we beg you to reconsider your decision': The position of African cricketers going into the 1890s
  7. 'The most gorgeous of Eastern spectacles': A third Inter-Town Tournament launched, January 1890
  8. The formation of the South Africa Cricket Association, April 1890
  9. Cricket and the Imperial mission: The rise of Johannesburg and the first Currie Cup
  10. 'What Man's Accomplish'd Ye Can Do': The first black national team, April 1891
  11. Demon Spofforth of Africa: Black cricketers push for an inclusive system and get their first taste of international competition, March 1892


  1. Fateful decision: Rhodes and Milton exclude Krom Hendricks from the first South African tour to Britain, 1894
  2. The Cape Town establishment institutionalises racism in cricket
  3. The colour bar becomes fixed
  4. One cricketer who bucked the system
  5. 'Neither ladies nor cricketers': Women and exclusions of another kind
  6. Women at the crease
  7. Imperialism, racism and the shaping of a national cricket ethos


  1. Formation of the South African Coloured Cricket Board, 1903
  2. The first Currie Cup and Barnato Memorial Trophy tournaments
  3. Old wine in new vessels: Five cricket provinces in the Cape Colony
  4. New entrants to representative cricket (Transvaal, Natal, Orange Free State and Rhodesia)
  5. 'Strengthening the bonds of Union within the Empire': South Africa (SACA) in international cricket before World War 1





Cricket and Conquest is a major addition to sport literature in South Africa.  The history of cricket in South Africa has generally been presented as a happy tale of jolly British gentlemen who generously shared their sporting prowess with happy colonials in tune with the benign expansion of Empire. But the distinguished authors of this book present a quite startlingly different picture of the early days of cricket in southern Africa, with British military power at the heart of the narrative.
John Young, Author and cricket historian

Andre Odendaal makes century-old scorecards sing. The hidden story of Africa's cricket pioneers – and the link to the present generation – unfolds against a backdrop of denial and racial oppression in a keenly researched piece de resistance that goes way beyond the boundaries of a cricket book.
Lord Peter Hain, anti-apartheid sports campaigner and senior British politician (commenting on The Story of an African Game)

At last the story has been told – and in what a beautiful way.
Ray Mali, former President of the International Cricket Council and CSA(commenting on The Story of an African Game)

'Cricket and Conquest' is simply the finest book ever written about sport in South Africa. It should sit alongside the works of CLR James and Ramachandra Guha in the library of every cricket lover. For the first time, Odendaal, Reddy, Merrett and Winch tell the complete and unvarnished story of South African cricket: black and white and people called coloured, male and female. They have left no archive unexamined and no story unscrutinised in their quest for the truth. This book is not only a major work of scholarship, it is a work of passion: for cricket, for social justice and for a history that includes all those who ever swung a bat or bowled a ball. 
Prof Tony Collins, Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University, author of A Social History of English Rugby Union and three times winner of the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for Sports History book of the year.

Cricket and Conquest bowls over prevailing histories, de-colonising existing narratives of the game in a manner that does not seek to consolidate an innings, but opens up the field of study.  A book that covers a broad canvas, but when there are master craftsmen at the wicket, refusing to get bogged down, throwing all that came before into a spin, you read, with boyhood anticipation and wonder knowing that what was will never be the same.

As the title implies, with the Gatling gun came the cricket bat.  Did those subalterns who picked up a bat confront or collaborate with conquest?  The writers' approach to this issue, by showing the interconnectedness of white and black cricket, by turning boundaries inside out, makes for fascinating reading. 
Prof Ashwin Desai, University of Johannesburg and author of A Reverse Sweep, : A story of South African Cricket since Apartheid (forthcoming)

Some books scream out to be written, but often they remain undone because of the difficulty of the task. Here is something immensely important and satisfying - the story of South African cricket, told at last with both eyes open. It is an expiation of a long and shameful story: how the game which prides itself on fair play collaborated with cruelty, not just for a while but for decade after decade. And persuaded itself that most of this history did not exist. It's beautifully done as well.
Matthew Engel, Editor of Wisden, 1993-2000, 2003-2007.

Magnificent. A grand narrative, superb in its design and execution, busting the myth that South Africa's cricket history was merely a white man's story. Set against a background of imperial greed and military savagery in the high days of the British Empire it reveals how, after promising beginnings, black cricketers were excluded from the game at the same time as the hopes and dreams of their people for full citizenry were progressively dashed. This book is one the authors lived to write. Revisionist history at its best.
Dr Bernard Whimpress, author of Passport to Nowhere: Aborigines in Australian Cricket 1850-1913 and co-author of The History of Australian Cricket.  

Cricket and Conquest will set new standards in sports scholarship around the world. The authors have broken new ground at every turn of the project. Breaking down the uniform singular narrative of cricket's initiation in South Africa as part of the colonial mission and introducing resistance and indigenous subversion into the mix from the earliest days, this book should encourage researchers from across the world to look at their own established cricket narratives in an entirely new light.
Dr Boria Majumdar, author of Twenty-Two Yards to Freedom: A social history of Indian Cricket and co-author with Sachin Tendulkar of the bestselling Playing it My Way: My Autobiography.

...  destined to become an essential classic. Beautifully written and meticulously researched. The profound episodic stories of inclusion and exclusion are told with an admirable and engaging lightness of touch.
Paul Yule, Filmaker, including Not Cricket 1 and 2 on The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy (BBC, 2004) and The Captain and the Bookmaker (BBC, 2008) about Hansie Cronje.

A major addition to sport literature. The history of cricket in South Africa has generally been presented as a happy tale of jolly British gentlemen displaying their sporting prowess in tune with the benign expansion of Empire. But the distinguished authors, drawing on unusual original sources, present a quite startlingly different picture of the early days of cricket in southern Africa. Military power and jingoistic imperialism is at the heart of this narrative, and cricket's links with Britain's occupying armies is made clear. The book highlights a whole range of inter-connected but previously-untreated issues and the resurrections that occur throughout it correct the record in fundamental ways, restoring dignity to many cricketers whose historic contributions to the development of South African cricket have largely been ignored.
John Young, Author and 2016 winner of the Independent Publisher's Association of South Africa's Biography of the Year.

The ancestors come alive in Cricket and Conquest. The creativity, resilience and human agency of cricketers facing unspeakable prejudice and deeply institutionalised, deliberately created barriers is beautifully researched and narrated.
Chris Nenzani, President Cricket South Africa

Prof Odendaal and the team have produced a magnificent piece of work that traverses the full history of our game. This is an authoritative source not only for cricket lovers but for all those interested in the undeniable link between politics and society in South Africa. Meticulous research gives us a breathtaking panorama of our rich and diverse past.
Haroon Lorgat, CEO Cricket South Africa