Bats and Bayonets: Cricket and the Anglo-Boer War, 1899 /1902

11 Jul 2016

Cricket is perhaps the quintessential English game, evoking images of green fields and dreaming spires. ?No other game?, writes Hughes, ?captures the peace and tranquillity of an English summer afternoon quite like cricket.? [1] Just as cricket speaks of England at peace, so too, perhaps because of Newbolt?s much-quoted ?Vitai Lampada?, was it bound up with England and the way she saw herself at war. Inevitably when war descended upon England and her colonies, cricketers rallied and were rallied to the ranks. And wherever the fight took them, cricket went too. The Duke of Wellington watched his guards playing cricket at Enghien a few days before Waterloo and on the day after the battle of Chernaya in the Crimea a match was played between the Guards division and the ?Leg of Mutton Club?, a team of officers from other regiments. [2] The Anglo-Boer War of 1899 /1902 was no different. Former teammates were forced onto opposing sides and some fine cricketers were killed. Yet on more than one occasion it was the game of cricket that crossed the conventional boundaries of politics and warfare. It is no surprise, then, that with the conflict coming at a time when cricket had already established itself within the colonies of Southern Africa, cricket and war should become inexorably linked.