From England to India and the Caribbean, cricket more than any other sport has been associated with politics and national identity. Norman Tebbit's infamous 'cricket test' of loyalty for immigrants to the UK, is one of the most high profile examples of the mixing of cricket and identity. Why has cricket been so tied in with politics and identity?
During the heyday of the British Empire, cricket was the unquestioned national sport at home, while Lord Harris in India and other colonialists sought to use cricket to inculcate the values of Empire in native populations. This became a double-edged sword, as the colonial subjects improved at the sport and often beat the English on the cricket pitch, which was emblematic of their struggle against colonial rule.
When the great West Indian teams of the 1970s and 1980s trounced the country that had given them the game, it signified the transformed relationship between the respective nations. Meanwhile Britons of Asian descent tended to support the countries of the subcontinent rather than England, to the consternation of Norman Tebbit.
Today, cricket has lost out to football as England’s national sport, and power is fast shifting from Melbourne and Lords to Kolkata and Mumbai, as the new Indian Premier League attracts the world's great players.
Does this reflect broader changes in the fortunes of nations, or is it a purely sporting phenomenon? Is cricket still an 'English' game? What is the future for cricket in the 21st century?- Battle of Ideas
Duleep Allirajah is sports columnist for spiked. He co-founded the Libero! network which campaigned against the increasing regulation of football fan conduct.
Allirajah has written on a wide range of social and cultural issues as seen through the prism of sport including racism and national identity, violence on and off the field, sportsmen as role models, and the commercialisation of football. He is a season ticket holder at Crystal Palace and hates public weeping at football, the wearing of jester's hats and open-top bus parades for runners-up.
Debanjan Chakrabarti works for the British Council in India. The highlight of his long career is a brisk, run-a-ball 2 he scored at Eden Gardens in 2007, turning up for the British Council against the Calcutta Sports Journalists' Club.
At the British Council, Chakrabarti is Head of the Intercultural Dialogue Programme. Chakrabarti has the additional responsibility of heading the British Council' Project English in East India.
Chakrabarti was awarded the prestigious Felix Scholarship from India for his doctoral studies in the UK where he completed his thesis on Graham Greene's journalism and its impact on his fiction from the University of Reading. In India, Chakrabarti obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from Jadavpur University.
Chakrabarti started his career as a journalist with The Telegraph in 1997, after which he joined the British Council, working on arts, film, literature and language projects. Chakrabarti then taught English literature very briefly at Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan. While conducting his research in England, he designed and taught courses on Hindi films, Indian writing in English and Shakespeare at Reading University.
Chakrabarti joined the British Council again on his return to India in 2004, initially as head of corporate communications in East India, before starting on his present assignment from January 2008.
Nick Gandon arrived as Director of the Cricket Foundation in September 2003 following a career in education.
During a period of over twenty years within independent schools, Gandon taught English and Drama, coached cricket and hockey, directed plays and much else besides. Gandon joined the Cricket Foundation after a mid-life moment.
Geoff Kidder is Head of Membership and Events at the Institute of Ideas. The associate membership scheme was set up in May 2002, and we now have associates throughout the UK and around the world.
Kidder also convenes the monthly IoI Book Club, and supervises the IoI's administration and event management. Kidder is also the Institute of Ideas' resident expert in all sporting matters and covered the Beijing Olympics for Culture Wars.
Tim Rice is assistant comment editor at The Times.
He was previously Saturday sports editor for two years, and before that editor of sports supplements. He is a member of the MCC, and a Chelsea season ticket holder.