Study tracks down the world’s cricket statues
An academic from the University of Sheffield has compiled the first complete database of statues of cricket players around the world: in the process discovering that, whilst England are tipped to prevail in the forthcoming Ashes series, their oldest foes are one step ahead in the statue stakes.
The database records 41 cricket statues around the world, and a further 6 that are planned. Though England is the home of the game, it has only erected 11 statues featuring cricketers (of which six are anonymous figures), compared to 19 standing in Australia. Statues sited in India, Bangladesh and the West Indies also feature.
Australian great Don Bradman is the most frequently depicted, with four statues across his home nation. English players so far portrayed are W.G. Grace, bodyline legend Harold Larwood, Yorkshire’s fast bowling hero Fred Trueman, and former England captain Graham Gooch. Eccentric umpire Dickie Bird has also been honoured in his hometown of Barnsley.
Though both public statuary and cricket can trace their roots back for several centuries, and the first cricketer statue, of KS Ranjitsinghi in Jamnagar, India, was erected in the 1930s, it is only in the past two decades that further cricket players have been honoured in this way.
Dr Chris Stride, of the Sporting Statues Project at the University of Sheffield, explained the reason behind this growth: “The increasingly savvy use of nostalgia in marketing sports events and venues, the need for increasingly featureless modernised grounds to proclaim a sense of identity and authenticity, and – where statues are erected in cities and towns – the simultaneous decline of public respect for traditional statue subjects such as politicians or church leaders, and the increased profile of sporting heroes, are factors responsible for the growth of statues commemorating cricketers.”
He adds: “The proliferation of Australian cricket statues perhaps reflects not only the central place of sport, and particularly cricket in Australian life, and their many fine players, but also that Australia is a ‘young nation’, and so has relatively few historical figures of note in public life. Hence, in publically proclaiming its history though built heritage, it places a greater weight upon its successful sporting exploits.”
The database goes live to the public at http://www.sportingstatues.com on Thursday 4 July 2013, but advance access is available to media organisations from Tuesday 2 July 2013 at the following link.
The Sporting Statues Project
The Sporting Statues Project, based at the University of Sheffield, UK is a cross-disciplinary research study that records and researches figurative statues and other forms of commemoration of sportsmen and women around the world. Since 2010 we have published a series of academic papers and magazine articles, spoken at sport history, visual art, and sports marketing conferences, and collected information on over 600 statues.
At present the project website www.sportingstatues.com displays databases for all UK-sited sporting statues, US baseball statues and now the world’s cricket statues. For news on forthcoming project publications and website updates, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sportingstatues
The University of Sheffield
Each year nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 125 countries come to the University of Sheffield to learn alongside 1,181 of the world’s best academics at one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.
A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.
Dr Chris Stride