Resistance and identity

Anti-apartheid poster with image of police beating Black people

This UK Anti-Apartheid Movement poster shows the brutality of the white South African government. It was part of a 1970s campaign to boycott playing sport against the racist regime. Courtesy of AAM Archives Committee.

Dispossessed African people took on cricket as their own culture, even though introduced to them by the British. They also used cricket and other sports to fight racism by organising their own games and by becoming, in some instances, notable players worldwide.

In the Caribbean, cricket was taught in schools from the 1870s and the first Black clubs were formed in the 1890s. The game made significant headway after freedom from enslavement, and the West Indies team became renowned world players. They won the International Cricket Council World Cup in 1975 and 1979 respectively.

In the 1970s, Black South Africans still lived in a deeply racist and divided country. Cricket was part of their struggle against apartheid and colonialism. Black players and administrators started organising inter-town tournaments and even a game against an English touring side. However they remained excluded from test cricket and the whites-only South African Cricket Association. Undeterred, they formed their own South African Coloured Cricket Board. It was to become the fifth national cricket association world-wide, a pre-cursor to the West Indian, Indian, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lankan, Zimbabwean and Bangladesh cricket boards which participate in international cricket today.

Black and white cricketers at the end of a match

The Royal Air Force team, based at Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong, leave the pitch after winning the semi-final of the colony six-a-side competition, 1966. Courtesy of Conrad Benjamin.