UCL History's Dr Michael Collins, How cricket helped Windrush arrivals in Britain, The Conversation

21 June 2023

Image of windrush arrivals playing cricket - photo in black and white

Published on 14 June 2023 in The Conversation, Dr Collins explores how cricket helped Windrush arrivals build a sense of ‘home’ in Britain.

"Cricket was played extensively in Britain in the 1950s, in towns, villages and cities, both in workplaces and as a social activity. And the sport had also become a ubiquitous cultural pastime in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Indeed, cricket was a key part of Britain’s cultural imperialism, with the game helping to convey ideas about social order – in the colonial Caribbean, cricket clubs were segregated on the basis both of class and “race”. An emphasis on respecting the rules, “fair play” and sporting behaviour all enhanced this sense of white English prestige.

After the second world war, racism forced many new Windrush arrivals – predominantly black Caribbean men looking for employment in manual jobs – to set up their own cricket clubs...

Part of a story of black British history that goes far beyond protest, policing and “resistance”, this remarkable generation of Windrush cricketers were pioneers of community building in England. In so doing, they helped transform what it means to be British."

This article is part of The Conversation's Windrush 75 series, which marks the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain.

Read the article