Swami and Friends

Cricket Symbol Icon

The game of cricket is the story’s most potent symbol of the complex way that English colonization plays out in the lives of Swami and his friends. As a quintessentially English activity, cricket is closely tied to England’s presence in India, but instead of rejecting it for its oppressive associations, Swami and his friends—particularly team captain Rajam—embrace the game as a means of gaining self-determination, dominance over opponents, and interpersonal connection. This paradoxical pursuit demonstrates the ways in which colonized peoples like Swami and his friends must necessarily adapt to the influences of the colonizer, even embracing aspects of the oppressive culture and subverting them into mechanisms of liberation. However, the friends’ cricket team has both positive and negative effects in Swami’s life; it initially helps him put aside his political differences with Rajam, but it also tears apart their friendship when Swami misses the crucial match. Through this symbol, Narayan seems to recognize the unstable and sometimes dangerous role that even the appealing aspects of colonizing nations play in the lives of the colonized.

Cricket Quotes in Swami and Friends

The Swami and Friends quotes below all refer to the symbol of Cricket. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of Swami and Friends published in 1980.
Chapter 13 Quotes

Rajam realized at this point that the starting of a cricket team was the most complicated problem on earth. He had simply expected to gather a dozen fellows on the maidan next to his compound and play, and challenge the world. But here were endless troubles, starting with the name that must be unique, Government taxes, and so on. The Government did not seem to know where it ought to interfere and where not. He had a momentary sympathy for Gandhi; no wonder he was dead against the Government.

Related Characters: Swami, Rajam
Related Symbols: Cricket
Page Number: 113-114
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

Swaminathan had a sense of supreme well-being and security. He was flattered by the number of visitors that were coming to see him. His granny and mother were hovering round him ceaselessly, and it was with a sneaking satisfaction that he saw his little brother crowing unheeded in the cradle, for once overlooked and abandoned by everybody.

Related Symbols: Cricket
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cricket Symbol Timeline in Swami and Friends

The timeline below shows where the symbol Cricket appears in Swami and Friends. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Rajam suggests forming a cricket team, and although Swami initially feels that he’s not good enough to play, Rajam convinces... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Swami and Rajam go to Mani’s house to choose cricket equipment from a sporting goods catalogue. Mani insists that a certain kind of bat, the... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...Rajam, which turns out to be from Sankar, who says that he is also playing cricket now. The three friends are excited to hear from Sankar and immediately write letters in... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...their team. They write back to the company returning the letter and asking that their cricket supplies be sent quickly. (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami, Rajam, and Mani continue to believe that the cricket supplies will arrive soon, and that perhaps the company is even making them especially for... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...first upset not to have the supplies they need to play a full game of cricket, but they manage to continue when someone suggests using the wall as a temporary wicket.... (full context)
Chapter 14
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...after-school obligations, he runs home to drop off his supplies and then arrives at the cricket field by evening. Though he tries his best to get there quickly, Swami is often... (full context)
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...calls to him during the brief time that he is at home between school and cricket practice. He feels sorry for how often she is ignored and goes to see what... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...that she does not know who Tate is and, furthermore, she does not know what cricket is. He lectures her on the basics of cricket and explains how well Rajam leads... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...Swami, the best bowler on the team, needs to leave school early to get to cricket practice on time. The headmaster listens and then orders them to leave the office without... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The M.C.C. has scheduled a cricket match against a team called Young Men’s Union. The match is friendly in name, but... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...who continues to arrive late to practice. With only a week to go until the cricket match, Swami realizes that he has to find a way to get extra practice and... (full context)
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...get a certificate that will allow him to leave school early to practice for the cricket match. The doctor appears concerned, but laughs at Swami when Swami says that he has... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...criticizes him for always getting in trouble. Rajam tells Swami that he has seen their cricket opponents practicing and that Swami must not miss the match. On the spot, Swami decides... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...away. Swami regrets not telling his father what happened and is especially sorry to miss cricket practice leading up to the match. (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...tigers, cobras, even demons—attacking him. Soon, he falls into a fantasy that he is playing cricket in the coming match, playing well and watching his team win, with the odd addition... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...where he is from, or what happened to him. Now, he finds Swami outside, practicing cricket bowling with a tree and some rocks. Swami thanks Mr. Nair for helping him and... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
On Sunday afternoon, the cricket match between M.C.C. and Y.M.U. is underway. The M.C.C. is losing and Rajam is furious,... (full context)
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...agrees, saying how grateful he is that Mr. Nair returned him in time for the cricket match. (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Mani explains, to Swami’s dismay, that the cricket match has already happened earlier that day, Sunday. He tells the story of the team’s... (full context)
Chapter 19
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...because he has not found the courage to go and see Rajam since missing the cricket match. When Swami heard the news from Mani, he asked Mani to come to his... (full context)