Cult over cricket

Narendra Modi posed for the cameras holding a photograph of Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi stadium… lets lose ourselves in this “bottomless sinkhole of North Korean narcissism”

Mukul Kesavan

It isn’t unusual for prime ministers of cricket-mad nations to sidle into the frame, to photobomb the cricket. During a Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Harare in 1991, the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, got the Pakistani mission there to organise a charity cricket match featuring Britain’s John Major, Australia’s Bob Hawke, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom from the Maldives and himself. They turned out in whites and with some help from Clive Lloyd, Dave Houghton and Graeme Hick put up a show. A wonderful account of the match on ESPNCricinfo has Sharif using his feet and lofting a ball for six.

John Howard, the conservative Australian prime minister, was so keen on cricket that after retiring from politics, he nearly became Australia’s representative to the ICC. He would, in course of time, have become ICC president, succeeding Sharad Pawar, but his candidacy was shot down by South Asian cricket boards unenthusiastic about being led by a rampaging neocon. Howard genuinely loved the game: he was that irritating creature, a cricket ‘tragic’, who managed, when he was prime minister, to find himself in England whenever an Ashes series was being played there…

Ten Theses on the Proliferation of Egocrats (1977)